Crossing the Bench: Geneva Bible, 1568.

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We received this old Bible in bad shape, as you can see from the picture above, but we went to work saving it, and it will live to see  several more centuries to come!  

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We removed the old tattered cover and removed a lot of dirt, old rubber cement, and insect cocoons. There had been previous restoration—the kind that actually causes damage—hence the rubber cement. There was also rediculous oversewing, so we took that out too.  

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While cleaning up the spine we found fun very old parchment manuscript waste that was used to line a few signatures. 

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The spine needed serious reshaping, so after rounding and backing, we left the book securely wrapped in the backing press with extra wrapping to ensure the spine would dry back in its proper shape.  

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We embroidered new end-bands using linen thread, then cosmetically aged the endbands to look as if they’ve been on the book for a couple hundred years. 

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We finished the project with a full leather binding, complete with a Renaissance tooling design.  

Crossing the Bench: Historical Rebind of a 1562 Geneva (first folio edition).

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This restoration commission was a fun and rewarding one.  This book was obviously in bad shape, and as we always say, when a binding is shot the text block isn't far behind.  

We carefully disbound the book, collated, flattened, and resewed the text block.  We added a facsimile title page, hand-embroidered end bands, bound the book in hand-dyed calf leather, tooled the leather in a historical design, and finished by cosmetically ageing the binding. This project required extensive paper conservation and so the total project took just under 40 hours.

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We're so happy for the opportunity we had in preserving this special book. 

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Crossing the Bench: Historical Rebind, Geneva Bible, 1570.

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We recently had the pleasure of rebinding this fantastic copy of a Geneva Bible, 1570.  The text block was the cleanest copy we've seen of a 446 year old book.  Even though the text block was in good condition, a book this old still needs to be handled with care.  As you can see from the photo above, the binding was falling apart, so our client wanted a historical rebind rather than saving the old binding (which was not an original binding).  

We carefully disbound the book, consolidated the text block, rounded and backed the text block, hand embroidered chevron end bands, covered the book in hand dyed (by us) calf leather, hand tooled the leather in a 16th Century design, saved the book plate from within the old binding and placed it in the new binding, hand cut and engraved brass clasps, and finished the binding by cosmetically aging it. We also made a leather enclosure to match the binding. 

This book had been previously rebound by Francis Fry (1803-1886), a bibliographer, editor, and book collector. It's been said that he had nearly 1,300 bibles and testaments; mostly in the English language, as well as special editions of the Tyndale, Coverdale, and Cranmer (The Great Bible).  Fry produced the first complete Tyndale New Testament facsimile by tracing each page and then making copies through the process of lithography. 

Preserving bindings as a preservation practice is very 20th Century; rebinding in the 1800's was a common preservation practice, which is why so many books we now work on and/or rebind - though over 400 years old - have bindings that are actually quite modern.  Unfortunately, because the quality of leather and other materials in the in 1800s was so inferior, those modern rebindings aren't lasting the test of time.  I love adding my work to the history of these relics.   

Take a look at the binding process:  Binding project took 38 hours, with 1,075 individual tool impressions. 

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1601 Geneva Bible Conservation & Restoration

The process of restoring a rare book can actually look really scary.  Often times to stop deterioration of a rare book it needs to be completely taken apart, carefully I might add, but taken apart to be fixed and restored properly.    

This bible was absolutely beautiful, even in it's worn condition, but it had severe water damage with loose pages falling out.  If we want it to last another couple hundred years, it needed to be restored.  

We removed the text block from the binding and cleaned up the spine and reattached the loose pages.  We replaced the warped water damaged board with a new one while preserving the original leather cover.  We consolidated and re-hydrated the leather cover, made new period appropriate paste downs as the old past downs were not original and tattered.  We replaced the bookplates, attached new ribbons, reattached the binding and the text block, fixed the end caps and corners, and finished with a nice polish.      

This bible is beautiful and a great piece of history that will now last a long long time!