Special Collections and University Archives

by Audrey Sage

Special Collections and University Archives received a wonderful gift from Judith Fetterley, a first edition copy of Silver Pitchers: and Independence, a Centennial Love Story by Louisa May Alcott published by Roberts Brothers in Boston, 1876.

Conservator Audrey Sage was able to put a plan into action to provide some repair and restoration to this wonderful book. Part of the original spine was missing and the original text block spine adhesive was failing leaving the text block at risk for damage and deterioration.

The  first step was to carefully remove the remaining spine adhesive. This was able to be accessed due to the absence of part of the cover cloth.  Once the old adhesive was removed, she was able to apply a layer of new starch paste and a protective piece of 18 gram Kozo Japanese paper.  This creates a strong and supportive layer for the textlbock signatures.  The next action was to create a paper hollow along the spine.

Sage was then able to carefully lift the original cloth from the cover boards in order to insert a new spine substrate to recreate and reform the cloth covering. 

This piece is constructed through the lamination of a layer of linen cloth and a toned piece of Moriki Japanese paper. 

This new spine piece was inserted and formed around the book and then what remained of the original spine was adhered to this piece. 

Damaged corners were repaired, pages were surface cleaned, interior hinges were mended, and finally the book is ready to be returned to the Special Collections.  It is now more secure and easier to use and view with these archival mends in place.

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