Materials Used in Conservation

A variety of materials are used during the conservation process. All materials are designed to cause no harm to the book. Papers are acid-free, adhesives are pH-neutral, and other materials will not off-gas or negatively react with the original. Some of the materials used in the conservation of the Teaching Young Americans collection include:

  1. Japanese papers: Made in Japan using age-old traditional methods of paper making, these papers are very strong yet quite thin. They come in a variety of weights and colors. The solid-dyed papers are used for repairing joints (i.e. reattaching covers) while the thinner, translucent papers are used for mending tears in pages.
  2. Western papers: These high-quality, acid-free papers are used for lining spines and making new endsheets, when necessary. Western papers can be machine-made or handmade. Handmade papers are usually reserved for replacing missing endpapers or in other places where a variety of texture and colors is useful in matching the original.
  3. Marbled papers: These decorative papers were used on both the covers of books and for the endpapers. A variety of patterns were used throughout history, but each era had its favored patterns and colors.
  4. Cotton muslin: A very flexible and strong cloth used for for lining spines and attaching loose covers. When dyed to match the original cloth, muslin can also be used to repair cloth-bound books.
  5. Irish linen thread: A strong thread used for re-sewing textblocks. The fibers of the flax plant give the linen its strength.
  6. Bookcloth: A durable cloth used for the covers of books. This cloth is either sized with starch or a synthetic material (such as acrylic) or backed with paper. The sizing or backing allows the cloth to be glued to the boards which make up the cover.
  7. Calf or goat leather: The leather is prepared by removing most of the flesh layer and leaving the skin layer. This is done with a paring knife on a super smooth surface, such as a lithography stone. Many of these books were originally bound in sheep leather, which is not very durable and breaks down overtime.  Both calf and goat leather are stronger. Calf leather is smoother and gives a fine look to the book while goat leather has a characteristic grain.