At long last, a classic dust jacket is freed of its pressure-tape mummification and returns to its corner store display a little more lively than it was a month ago.
I'm currently in hot, slow pursuit of a dairy-related enamel sign screwed to a seemingly decades-unused wooden door in an alley on Boston's North End, less than a block from the North Bennet Street School. While making my way back from yet another attempt at first contact, I spied this familiar title, in a sorry state, through the window of souvenir shop next to The Paul Revere House. A damaged book with a story based in Boston, during my first month in the city for a book restoration program? They say there're no such things as coincidences...
A couple years ago in San Francisco, a friend and I stumbled across an antique storefront's going-out-of-business sale in a warehouse in SOMA. It always fascinates me to think about how all these strange objects from across huge swaths of time and space and culture can end up sitting side-by-side, to consider their converging histories. Maybe a thing is a new arrival to the shelves and crates, just recently pulled from circulation, or maybe it's been sitting there since the beginning, waiting to be recognized for something - usefulness, beauty, novelty, curiosity - once again. I found a couple of black cloth, gold-stamped photo albums in less than fair condition, pasted full of black and white images from the ~1900s-1930s. That potentially permanent recorded evidence of so many single moments in time, with all the context packed into those pieces of paper, is a time capsule, proof of existence, for whatever that's worth. The doers - the picture takers and takees - felt it valuable enough to record, and I have a strong reverence any figment of personal creativity actualized, for the inspiration potential of any publicized idea. I bought the albums, a few dozen memories of ancient strangers, with the intention of cleaning them up a bit and giving them a place to stay for a while.
While in DC, a friend put me onto this fascinating volume, the so-called 'Jefferson Bible'; Thomas' own re-interpretation of Jesus' teachings extracted from Greek, Latin, French, and English versions of the New Testament. Jefferson's Bible focuses on Jesus' moral lessons and almost entirely excludes passages regarding divinity or the supernatural, ie the philosophy rather than the dogma. With beautiful red leather boards, edge-gilding, and marbled endsheets, this will be a perfect candidate for a leather reback - reusing all the original elements - once I've settled into my new home in Boston and can retrieve my tools and materials from storage!
Every machine has a story and, in spite of it, deserves to serve its original function diligently until the steel itself turns to dust. Right up to that moment, it's a matter of respect to maintain its mechanics, keep it slicked and clean, give it the chance to do what it was built to do.
It seems only right to christen the inclusion of my typewriter collection and repair antics on this blog with the first machine I ever purchased, a 1919 Underwood Standard #3. This model features a 16" platen and an extended frame to support it... as such, it weighs about 60 lbs and is far from a 'portable' model. I received it in pretty decent shape, albeit with some dust, sticky keys, and a missing ribbon.
New protective endsheets added
Brown cloth case and title label recovered from the original paperback back cover. Nothing will stop the paper in this mass-produced volume from acidifying, browning, and eventually turning to dust, but until then, I can rest easy knowing that it has clothes enough to thrive in the hands and eyes of a few more readers.
On a recent walk through Washington, DC, I stopped at a Little Free Library (and how could I not?) and picked up a worn paperback edition of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Having recently moved to the city, I've been desperate for a reason to pick up a bonefolder again - here was my reprieve!
Even in the midst of a cross-country move, when I ought to be thinning out my collection for my back's sake, I can't help but be sucked in by book in need. This little volume is not only falling apart but appears to have been put back together incorrectly at some point: The accordion-fold of photos has cracked, yellowing tape across each seam, and based on the orientation of the first page, whoever did this 'restoration' refolded the photos in the opposite direction, causing several to crease and tear over time.
I'm fairly certain I'll be able to clean them up nicely and strengthen the insert from the back with strips of kozo paper. The acidic paper of the booklet may be more difficult to repair, but it's strong enough yet that bringing the book to a handleable state shouldn't be a problem.
'Carrots' came to me in decent shape from a $1 sale, but the joints were torn and the textblock was solid be separated from the covers.
Here's the completed reback. After the endbands, the spine was lined with another layer of kozo paper, then linen, then paper. A new spine piece was fitted into the boards, new spine cloth was toned to match the existing cloth, then everything was slid, glued, and pressed together.