The book could not be fully restored. The paper had deteriorated badly and that is a process that can't be reversed. The binding itself was still tolerably good, and the loose signature could easily be tipped in (glued back in place). The boards of the covers were also in bad condition, but to remove the ivory, inlaid brass, and brass rims would be a long, difficult process that could very well end badly. Especially problematical would be re-attaching the brass rims. At least one corner would have to be opened and then re-soldered after being re-fitted to the new board. Given that the book had no meaningful public value ($100; maybe $200), a 30-60 hour restoration at standard restoration rates would involve a cost of some number of thousands of dollars. Like I said, what to do?
One reasonable answer would be to tread softly, and do 4 fairly simple things: document the book's condition before restoration, re-attach the covers and spine, tip in the loose signature, and then document the book's condition again. That's what I did.
I carefully photographed the book when it came into my shop, and I photographed the stages of restoration. I used those photos, along with descriptive and explanatory text, to make two pdf booklets, a before and after. Here are a few photos from those booklets:
|Here's the book as it came into my shop, in a plexiglass box (a good way to store it).|
|The 4 pieces of the book, from top left: book body, ivory spine, ivory back cover, brass and ivory front cover. The brass rim and clasp are easy to see.|
|The back of the spine, with rotten paper and the remains of the old, original cloth cover (purple-ish).|
|Detail of front cover, showing brass rim pulled away from board.|
|Another view of the brass rim and board.|
|The clasp on the back cover.|
|The first step in restoration: clean the spine of old paper, glue, cloth, crud.|
|The book, completed.|
|Clasp works again.|