Tag Archives: book conservation tools

The Battle of 1667 Physica Curiosa and the Book Conservation Fixture

Nice to see my Book Fixture getting a workout at the UCLA Library Conservation Center, battling all 1,389 pages of Gasper Schott’s 1667 Physica Curiosa. Typical of alum tawed books from this time, the spine is now very inflexible; note that the leaves start to drape about 2cm from the folds. These books are a bear trap, err, make that an elephant trap in this case.

Thanks to Chela Metzger, Library Conservator at UCLA, for initial impetus for the fixture.  And she is now Tweeting!

Peachey Book Fixture battling Physica Curiosa. Photo Chela Metzger, UCLA Library Conservation Center.

Peachey Book Fixture battling Physica Curiosa. Photo Chela Metzger, UCLA Library Conservation Center.

 

Improved Book Fixture

I’ve made two improvement to the in-situ book conservation fixture. First, the sliding arm is now machined out of a solid 1 x 1″ block of aluminum, so it much more rigid. The second is the front bar is now made from a 1″ rod of Delrin, much  more paper friendly than the previous aluminum one, and has a larger diameter. History and more images of an earlier version. Available for purchase here.

book fixture

Book Fixture

 

 

 

 

 

Book Jack

Many forms of book wedges are available for the reading room, ranging from the familiar Clarkson foam, wood ones, as well as some newer ideas from the At the Bench blog.  There are also many options for the safe display of books.  A third need — to secure books partially open while undergoing treatment and examination — seems to have been ignored, or commonly jerry rigged with weights and pressing boards as the need arises.

I developed the in-situ book conservation fixture to securely hold a textblock open while performing page repairs, working under magnification, media consolidation, etc. It is large and heavy, and can easily accommodate parchment textblocks.

The book jack is small, lightweight, and designed for use on the workbench. It quickly and easily adjusts from 15 to 60 degrees, locks securely into place by a built in handle, and provides a more rigid support than foam. This fixture that holds the book, or boards, open in a wide variety of positions to reduce strain while performing treatments.   The small size permits it to be used inside a book to work on board edges and corners. It can also be used to support a textblock upright when rebacking or humidifying warped vellum boards, although additional weights may be necessary to stabilize it.  I use this fixture constantly, from initial examination throughout the treatment.

The natural, translucent .25 inch thick polypropylene platens are lined with an easily replaceable .0625 inch thick closed cell polyethylene foam ( aka. Volara). The adjustment mechanism is 6061 T6 aluminum and a comfort grip handle, which has a lower profile than the platens at any angle, so that relatively large books can be supported.

Item#  BJ-1 $125.00 for one, or $225.00 pair

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In-situ Book Conservation Fixture

Added 15 March 2016: A newer version of this fixture: https://jeffpeachey.com/2016/03/15/improved-book-fixture/


A jig guides a tool, whereas a fixture supports the workpiece – in this case is a bound book. Increasingly, much of a book conservator’s work involves working in-situ without disbinding a textblock. This fixture safely and securely supports the parts of the book not being worked on while treating pages. The idea for this fixture was originally developed by Raymond Jordan, Senior Book Conservator at Trinity College, Dublin (for an image of his version in use, see Preservation and Conservation in Small Libraries, ed. Hadgraft and Swift, 1994), with additional improvements by Chela Metzger, Conservator of Library Collections at Winterthur Museum, Delaware.

Many conservators construct impromptu assemblages, but this fixture professionally, safely, and securely holds printed books and manuscripts, even those with heavy wood boards, bosses and other furniture. It supports the text-block and board, so that the spine and sewing structure is not stressed while work is done on the pages; repairing tears, media consolidation, flattening dogeared corners, dry cleaning, etc…. It can also be used to support the text-block when flattening warped or distorted vellum bindings. Text-block are rarely planar: working in-situ enables the conservator to repair tears that conform to the natural undulations of a particular place, on a particular page. The hinged bar allows the pages to be quickly turned, yet is braced so it cannot fall down onto the page. Perfect for books with fragile sewing, brittle pages, or any time gentle, secure support is needed when working on bound items. It simplifies and speeds up the treatment process when many pages of a text-block need attention.

The bed size is 12 x 17 inches, a heavy anti-tipping 1.5” thick, and the maximum supplied thickness books is 6 inches. Fits octavo through folio books. If a thicker book is encountered, extension pieces can be purchased for a nominal charge. This support can be used with oversize books with slight modifications, instructions included. Adjustable arm levers allow a full range of clamping angles, no tools necessary. The front page bar is hinged to allow quick page turns. The uprights hinge from 0 degrees (parallel to the bed) to 180 degrees. Constructed out of aircraft grade plywood with a 1.5” thick base to resist tipping, polypropylene and clear anodized 6105-T5 aluminum. Custom sizes available.

In-situ Book Conservation Fixture   $750.00