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Re: [BKARTS] Heavily applied leather treatment.

On Aug 21, 2006, at 1:00 PM, M & M Cirfi Walton wrote:

My question is how can I minimise the leather treatment so that the new
repair will properly adhere to the old leather? I have tried using a soft
chamois ..........

I had a similar book that was so heavily oiled that the pastedowns were stained (*see note below). I tested alcohol (pure ethanol) on a corner using a blotter to wick the alcohol and the oil. Since it did not seem to darken the leather, I tried a larger area which also worked. Since the alcohol seemed to reduce the oil and the stain, I soaked the boards briefly (misting/spraying might have been safer) and blotted the alcohol and from the board. Now dry, they seem in a proper condition for further treatment.
CAUTION: the alcohol could have an adverse affect, especially if there is any water in the alcohol, and the alcohol could be overly aggressive on some leather causing too much drying. However, I feel that the oil needs to be removed to prevent further damage; removal will also permit a good repair.
Also, according to research by Betty Haines, alcohol can have an adverse affect on leather, HOWEVER, it continues to be used in some current leather treatment solutions.

*Note: Background for some of the newer binders/conservators in the field --- Oiling books with lanolin and neatsfoot oil had been (still is?) quite common.
In the early 1980's, I had an opportunity to comment on the Instruction Manual that accompanied a leather treatment kit that was sold by one of our illustrious institutions. The manual had a statement that had always concerned me --- Quote: "Apply the dressing liberally with a paint brush and allow to soak for 48 hours", and then remove the excess. EXCESS!!!! Wow! In my opinion, it was already excess when it was applied. Contrary to some of our colleagues, I still apply a small amount of leather dressing with a rag, and wipe off any excess within minutes. This is done to add just a bit of oil, and after buffing it provides a minimal sheen to the leather. If possible, I try to avoid using waxes and acrylics, especially on older, rarer books.

Bill Minter

William Minter Bookbinding & Conservation, Inc.
4364 Woodbury Pike
Woodbury, PA  16695
Fax:   814-793-4045
Email:    wminter@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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