Drop Spine Cradle Boxes

Nine years ago I designed a new style of cradle box, and it is rewarding to see the idea picked up by others. Below is recent one I made is for this stunning early 20th century French fine binding.  The cradle also supports the slip-case chemise which is quite fragile. The slipcase itself is missing, or maybe it never had one.

French fine binding in a cradle box. Private Collection.

Some other examples from around the web:

A variant from Trinity College, Dublin.

Rehousing a fragile book of engravings at Princeton University.

Display and storage for an artist book from Karen Apps.

Three different types of cradle boxes on the AIC book conservation wiki.

A simpler version made out of folding board.

A group conservation project from Duke University, with some construction details. 




A Box for Oversize Books

A drop-spine box for heavy and oversize books. The cut out areas on each side of the inner tray allow both hands to lift the book out.

For large, heavy books there are a couple of ways to beef up a regular drop-spine box.

Like most people, I usually make them with double walls.

I also make a modified inner tray, so that both hands can lift the book when removing it. The book this is for is around 19 x 15 inches, and quite heavy.

For even larger books, a lift off lid is a good idea, so the box doesn’t take up so much table space when open.

Since this book will be stored flat, on a metal shelf, and the client intends to read it once a week, there is a a slide off bottom piece to wear out.  Even a durable cloth, like this canapetta, can wear quite quickly when slid on and off the shelf, there is an example here. It is adhered by friction, and when it wears through the client can mail it back for a new one, much cheaper than a new box.

The partially removed bottom piece. It slides off, but stays in place by hooking over the edge of the head and tail squares.

A Portfolio Box

Dwight Primano, a NYC based photographer and I designed this presentation box for a sequence of photographs titled “ken”.  Since the images had a specific sequence, and alternated horizontal and vertical format, we decided on a box with a lift off lid and small squares in each of the corners to prevent the images from shifting.  There are cut out areas for finger access on the top and sides.  The image size is slightly smaller than the width of the paper, so all the images remain hidden until the top one is lifted off.  The box is roughly 14 inches in height, square and covered with canapetta book cloth.   A new tool, the 25 degree flexible mini knife proved very useful for paring down a ridge between the complex cut outs on the corners and bottom lining cloth.

It’s always fun to collaborate on a project that is somewhat unusual like this one.  Dwight also teaches conservation documentation for The Institute for Fine Arts, as well as a great weekend workshop version covering some of the basics, which I took a couple of years ago. The top image looks like a woodcut, but it is a photograph of a kite lying on the grass.  There are a few copies of this series for sale, contact him for details.

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