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Lifting cover art.

Date: 12 Jul 94
>From: Claudia Stall <cstall@library.sdsu.edu>
Subject: Removing outer layer of book covers

I have some books that need repair.  The covers are ... cardboard
that is very worn and acidified but the book contents are in good
shape.  I want to replace the boards with acid free stock then reapply the
photograph or other original cover.  The problem is that on
the front cardboard cover (and sometimes the back as well) the paper is
glued directly to it. I can't seem to find a way to remove the paper
without tearing it.  A couple of them are photographs which are not
repeated within the text so their loss is important.  Some photos are in
rather poor shape but are still informative.  I have no idea what kind of
glue was used.

I have on hand Bob's Wetter Water Book label remover which can be used
in some circumstances but have not tried this yet.  Any suggestions
would be appreciated. Thanks :)

Ms. Claudia M. Stall, Head0
Collection Preservation/Mendery

The best way to do this from my experience is mechanically and dry. An old,
but still sharp paring knife and/or teflon spatula or bamboo spatula will
work well for this. Trim a hair off all sides of the board, and begin at a
corner. I helps to take some of the original board with the covering
material as it helps support the covering paper or thin cloth. Just go at is
slowly and with little pushing, using a slicing motion. Always be aware of
where your tool is. Take your time. Once off, any nubbly bits can be
scraped / sanded off. The lifted piece can then be reapplied to a new case.

The reason not to use water either straight or in solution with methycellulose
(I'm not familiar with the product metioned) is that the papers and older cloths
used to cover books often have no wet strength. Also the cloth is starch filled,
dyes WILL run... It's a mess. Another alternative, is to take color laser copies
which do a fantastic job on black and white photos and then tip them in. It is
also a way to reproduce color covers as well. The image is not resistant to
scuffing and will wear, but could be protected behing a mylar dust-jacket.

Hope this helps. If others have different tips I'd love to hear about them.

Peter D. Verheyen
Rare Books Conservator
B-39 Olin Library
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY 14853
607 / 255-2484

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