Advice on Rebinding a Strange "Relic" (1 Viewer)

Hey All: I own a rather unusual book; a notebook, more like, and it needs some help. It is an old ledger-style notebook, with burgundy and black cloth/leather-covered boards. Although it is not dated, the author states that her intent was: "I trust the soldiers, within the peaceful walls of their hospital, will taste the simple store I've grafted for them, and commune with it to the soothing of a few hours pain...snatches of time for the benefit of our brave Union defenders."

It also has those exquisite late-1800 endpapers that make one gasp. So, it obviously dates from the Civil War era, and was hand-written by someone from Leicester, MA. It comprises tombstone quotes from any number of unknown sources, and later wanders into the even more esoteric, and has some leaves (actual leaves from trees, I mean) from the late 1800s (presumably) in it. (Not sure how all this would placate union soldiers in hospital, but that's beyond the scope of this message, I think...)

Problem is, it is in bad shape. The outer spine is gone, and the front board is completely separated from the rest of the book at page 20. Beyond that, it's not in too bad shape. I'd like to keep it real, but fix it up so it's whole.

I doubt this is actually of any great monetary value, but it is certainly worth something in terms of historical value. I've tried to contact the Leicester, MA historical society, but to no avail. Would I be better off leaving it as is, or getting a pro to fix this up? Any suggestions as to who might do this?


one of my best friends works as an art conservator, but she also knows a little about book conservation. i'm not sure how much help/advice she could offer, but if you like i could email her. maybe she could provide some websites or companies that specialise in book restoration.
Thanks, Rubyred. Of course, I could Google book restorers myself (and have done so), but then I wouldn't get the objectivity of booklovers that inhabit this site. Plus, I was wondering if anyone had thoughts about this particular tome. A strange one, no doubt.

Anything you could do to contact your friend would be greatly appreciated.
It sounds like a great book (I love old books). You might try contacting a museum and see what advice they could give. Out here we have the Getty which is a great resource for this sort of information, but I have no idea if you have anything similar there. You could even try contacting the Smithsonian.

It sounds like resewing and replacing the spine and hinges with new linen and leather might be all it needs.

Good luck with it.
My initial thoughts include - WoW! What a cool thing!

I have to admit to googling book restorers to be able to help you. Then I didn't list any, because what you have is more than a book. It's really a keyhole into the past which gives anyone looking at, in, or through the book, a chance to glimpse something that will never be - not ever again. Not to wax poetic, but damn.

The Smithsonian sounds like a good bet. A historical document, such as you have, would be valued in a way which would honor it.

Then the obvious thoughts come up... how long have you had it, how did you come across it... how much do you know about who wrote it...
i've emailed my friend, i'll post here when she gets around to replying. her expertise lies specifically in art conservation/restoration but she may have contacts in book conservation.
Thanks Rubyred.

My initial thoughts include - WoW! What a cool thing!...The Smithsonian sounds like a good bet. A historical document, such as you have, would be valued in a way which would honor it.

Then the obvious thoughts come up... how long have you had it, how did you come across it... how much do you know about who wrote it...
I get a strange feeling when I read this notebook. There's this cross between the morbidity of picturing convalescing soldiers reading epitaphs to pass the time pitted against the apparent innocence of the writer. It seems to have been mostly penned by one Philena Upham of Leicester, MA. Google doesn't give me much on her (or didn't the last time I tried, several months ago). The book was given to me and my ex-wife (probably more to her) by the proprietor of a former bookstore in Cambridge, MA.

I had dropped nearly $1,000 there over a one-year period, and my ex-wife saw it there one night and boom, it was ours (gratis). That must have been about 6 or 7 years ago. We remain on good terms, and I've kept the notebook in a museum-quality storage bag for the past several years (at least that's how the proprietor described the bag - it's just a plastic bag to me).

Now, I said mostly penned by Ms. Upham, because in the margin space on almost every page, aphorisms were added in clearly another hand, but presumably around the same time, based on the lettering style and ink shading. Also, the end of the notebook tends to wander a bit, and many tree leaves were added, almost in an attempt to fill the volume up and get it completed.

I will consider contacting the Smithsonian, although, to be completely honest, I'm not sure whether they would treasure it or chuckle at it.
sorry to come in a bit late on this one...
my instinct is to not repair it, but instead get a custom slipcase made for it.
that way, it will keep its shape and be protected.
my opinion, but I'm always against repairing books.
my opinion, but I'm always against repairing books.
This particular notebook/ledger was highly degraded, lacked most of its spine, and had a full signature detached from the rest of the book (along with the cover). It had to be repaired so it will last until long after I'm gone.

I identified a world-class book restorer who is reasonably local, dropped off the book in the Summer and I will be picking up the book tomorrow. My wife and I are quite excited to see the results in person (the restorer sent many photos of the various stages of progress, but there's nothing like seeing the final product in one's hands).

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