Restoring A Magazine Collection, Part II

Spines Completely Worn Away
Spines Completely Worn Away

Continuing on from Part 1, this article describes the rest of the process for completing the restoration.

With the book block and end papers stitched togther, the next step was to prepare the case. For the most part the covers were all in the same condition. The front and back covers were in good shape, but the spine section had deteriorated to the point of non-existence in many cases. The cases had only the cloth for a spine, there was no reinforcing at all.

Also seen in the picture is the start of a hole being worn in the cover from the brass pins. Some covers have had holes worn right through.

The existing spine was therefore removed from the case, and a new spine section prepared. At the same time, the corners were reinforced.

Spines Ready For Fixing On

Adding New Spines

As the spines were to include gold lettering denoting the name and volume details, the spine sections were prepared and stamped prior to fixing to the existing cases. This made them much easier to handle, and fit in to the small Kingsley Gold Foil machine. All nine spines were prepared at the same time. The existing spine section was cut away, and the new material, from a nice heavy buckram, glued in place.

A template was made up to ensure that the cases were glued onto the new spine in the same place for each volume. This was necessary to ensure that the gold lettering lined up on each volume once finished and shelved. The template was a T shape, with the head of the T protruding from the case and giving the height of the fold over, whereas the body of the T was the width of the new spine (slightly larger than the original due to the extra width introduced by the stitching process), and centered on the new cloth.

A piece of medium card was then glued in to the spine section to help preserve it.

This template approach means that very little measuring is required for each book, and yet they all end up looking the same and fitting properly. It works in this case because there are nine volumes to be made up. For a single volume it would not make any sense.

Corner Reinforcement Jig

Reinforcing The Corners

A template was made for cutting the corner reinforcements, as well as a jig for fixing them on to the corner. This ensures that all 36 corners will look the same, as well as making it very easy to put in place. The jig is placed over the corner and then the cloth reinforcing is placed up to it. The picture shows the underside of the jig with the hooks that position it on the corner.

Additional End Paper Neatens It All Up

Casing In

Once the case is ready, the block is cased in. As the block is not trimmed, there is a bit of flexibility about how accurately this needs to be done. It is pretty well impossible to get the block lined up square on both front and back simultaneously. The case is also quite large relative to the magazines, so a square of around 10mm was visible in some places.

However, a covering end paper was cut to fit the inside cover. This was cut from the same paper as the end papers, and hence matched exactly. This was then glued in over the inside end paper to neaten up the cover. Once glued and in the press, the ends look very neat. The new binding was essentially complete.

Guild Logo


As the titling had already been done on the spine, and there was no requirement for titling on the front cover, the only finishing required was the addition of a gold Guild logo to the back of the book.

One Of The Completed Volumes

The Completed Volume

The completed volume is 430mm high, 300mm wide and 50mm thick. It weighs in at 4.6kg. The paper used for most of the sections is very heavy in clay, which gives a very crisp image and printing and also has preserved the pages very well. However it has contributed significantly to the weight.

Without any titling on the front, the volumes don't look like much, but inside they are a treasure trove of historical facts. One of my favourite sections of the magazine is the replies to letters to the editor. These are placed in a different section to the letters themselves, and do not repeat the letter, so they are strange, disjoint little paragraphs that nonetheless containg some priceless nuggets. Here are two of the best.

1: 'Mr Smith, after reading your letter we have been unable to discern any meaning in your correspondence.'

2: 'The maximum speed permitted by law for a traction engine is 4 mph. The need for the "man with the red flag" has been removed, however it will still require three men. The purpose for the third man is in overtaking and in rounding sharp corners.'

One can only assume that the purpose for the first two men is so obvious as to not require description, and that the function of the third man is to stop oncoming traffic for the two cases mentioned.

The process is only partly complete, with three volumes finished and six to go. However the processes have now been worked out, and the tools, templates and jigs all created. This has been a lot of fun to do, even with the size of the volumes. I am happy that these will last a very long time, as only good quality materials have been used, and all the weakest points have been heavily reinforced. The books open nice and flat, and are easily read.