The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 6
Aug 1987


Jane Greenfield and Jenny Hille. Headbands--How to Work Them. Edgewood Publishers, New Haven, 1986. 80 pp. $15 postpaid, U.S. and overseas.

Reviewed by Pam Spitzmueller

This slim volume (80 pages) is a welcome addition to every bookbinder's technical library. The authors have analyzed and described in detail the steps to construct 12 endbands--bead on edge, bead on spine, bead on edge and spine, French double core, Coptic, Ethiopian, double core (no bead, used on tab bindings), a German braided leather, Greek, Armenian, Islamic (two versions) and an Italian Renaissance (five cores!). Quite an accomplishment. The degree of difficulty and frequency which one might need to use some of these endbands varies, so there is something for everyone. I for one am glad to see a description of bow one might make an Armenian endband though the authors admit they are not sure this is how the Armenian binders really made them. Perhaps someone who does know will step forward. Though I may never need to make some of these endbands, the information is useful in other contexts. Because the end-bands presented are from a wide cross section of historical periods and cultural traditions in the family of bookbinding, the basic principles of endbanding can be culled from the text, so the adventurous endbander is equipped to create mew hybrids or decipher old ones.

The description of procedures is supplemented by a section of general hints (which shows the authors have made many endbands and trained many beginners), lists of suggested materials for each endband, and a thorough bibliography. The lively illustrations by Greenfield and a clear text assure success if you have patience and practice. The Islamic description is the clearest I have seen written and illustrated. I've never seen the Greek, Armenian and Renaissance endbands described at all before this! I an grateful for this collaboration. We should encourage people who have access to great collections of book structures such as those at Beinecke to carefully study, analyze and report their findings. A note of caution--many old bindings with interesting features are fragile and their secrets are best left unrevealed if there is danger of damage during examination.

There is a contradiction in Endband #2, head on spine, which needs clarification because it is such an important and useful endband in conservation work and is the best primary endband for any number of secondary sewings such as the chevron and the crowning core. After following the steps, my endband did look as if the "method of sewing is exactly like that of the most common present day headbands, the only difference being that the bead is on the spine." However, it is not, to the best of my understanding, the same back bead that Christopher Clarkson describes in Limp Vellum Binding, as the authors assert. Clarkson describes its advantages among others as an extremely firm attachment to the text-block edge, an endband which naturally stays forward on the edge of the text-block, and a very firm foundation for further decorative sewing. These properties are less evident in the Greenfield/Hille #2. Readers wishing to learn this very sound endband should move to Greenfield/Hille #3, bead on spine and edge. Instead of following all the steps, they should use only steps 1 to 5 and repeat. This makes the back bead with the critical Clarkson back loop.

The text-block is hand-sewn with chain stitch and no adhesive, and is printed on acid-free flexible paper, so it stays open while you concentrate on the endbanding. It is all wrapped in a cover of endband-inspired decorations.

Anne F. Clapp. Curatorial Care of Works of Art on Paper: Basic Procedures for Paper Preservation. 4th rev. ed. New York: Nick Lyons Books (31 W. 21 St., NY 10010, 212/620-580), 1987. 191 pp. Paperback. $16.95; $14.00 to AIC members when ordered through FAIC.

Reviewed by Ellen McCrady

The title of this book, which first came out in 1973, can be misleading. If the subtitle were used instead, it would give a more accurate idea of what is inside, because the procedures, many of them, are just as useful for book and archival paper conservation as they are for works of art. In fact, I became convinced after reading through it for the first time that it was just what the doctor ordered for book conservators and conservation technicians in both book and paper conservation. Sections that are especially relevant include the following:

Removal of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes - p. 73-75
Disinfection by Fumigation - p. 78-80
Dry Cleaning - p. 81-84
Relaxation by Dampening - p. 87-89
Mending Edge Tears - p. 105-108
Formulas - p. 144-151
Appendix I (Suppliers) - 153-158

Other sections are also relevant but need some adaptation because of the need in book and archival paper conservation to treat a larger number of sheets or folios at a time, and because of their lower individual value, method of storage and so on.

I had the previous edition (3rd rev. ed., 1978), and had often looked into it, but never appreciated its significance because of 1) its title, which puzzled me and caused me to conclude that the real subject of this book, or the audience it was written for, was something I had never learned about, 2) the typewritten format, with columns almost 6" wide, and 3) the awful binding, stapled twice through the side, covers cut against the grain, the sort of binding that fights you every time you pick it up (I had to give it an adhesive binding finally). This edition is much more user-friendly. It is shorter and fatter (though not 256 pages, as the publisher's leaflet claims) and lies open nicely. It is typeset in single columns of a reasonable width, leaded for easy reading. Illustrations are incorporated into the text, not grouped in the back as before. It's funny how physical things like these affect the transmission of thought from the author to the reader. The paper is an attractive cream white, though like its predecessor it is acidic.

The same arrangement of material in the main part of the book has been retained. First there is a section on the environment, useful for everyone, but especially the curator. Treatment procedures, including documentation, enclosure and storage, take up almost half the book. A useful section on "Requirements for the Care of Paper" show how to equip the storage room and workroom, and how to make mold nutrient, fungicide for pastes and so on. An incredibly accurate list of suppliers makes up Appendix I, and a very thorough index of all materials and equipment mentioned, giving every page on which each item was mentioned, makes up Appendix II. The footnotes of the previous edition have been swept into the back of the book. Both the notes and the bibliography have been thoroughly updated. The old bibliography will still be useful occasionally, because it contains many references not carried over to the new edition. There is a good index, which the last edition also had.

This book is the only one in its class. It was written by an expert, not for other experts or for amateurs and the general public, but for people whose work involves them more or less in paper preservation and conservation. It covers everything at the basic level, but goes into nothing in depth: it is punctuated throughout with references to the conservator, who is rightly expected to carry out all tricky operations, and with frank warnings of damage that careless workers can do. Nevertheless, I expect that it will be useful not only to people at the basic level, but to advanced workers in paper conservation and related fields, because of its excellent organization and reliability.

Reviews Published Elsewhere

The July Fine Print has two interesting reviews. As usual for Fine Print, the books are important, they are reviewed by exactly the right person, and the review is long enough and good enough to leave the reader with a sense of satisfaction at the end. They are: Twelve Bindings: Michael Wilcox, reviewed by Jan Storm van Leeuwen, and Chinese Handmade Paper, by Floyd Alonzo McClure, reviewed by Tsuen-hsuin Tsien. Part of the second review is worth quoting here to make it part of the record: "Both literary and archaeological evidence indicate that paper existed at least 200 years before Ts'ai Lun.. .. Ts'ai Lun' s contribution to papermaking was perhaps his introduction of new or fresh materials such as the bark of paper-mulberry and remnants of hemp, making mass production of paper possible. This is quite similar to events in Europe in the early 19th century, when rags for papermaking became so expensive and scarce that wood and other natural materials were adopted and commercialized."

Another excellent review of Chinese Handmade Paper is by Bryan R. Johnson in Hand Papermaking 2(1), Summer 1987. He relates how Dr. McClure's 1928 master's thesis was discovered by Elaine Koretsky and published by Henry Morris, with McClure' s original samples tipped in. (McClure died in 1970.)

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