The following article originally appeared on the website http://bookcollecting101.com, an excellent resource for book collectors.
Book Restorations for Your Collection
By Debra on February 5th, 2012
I recently came across a website offering Bookjacket Restoration - something I have wondered about for ages. My books are generally in good shape but I have a few that could benefit from restoration so I had some questions about the process. Brian Anthony, book restoration specialist, was kind enough to submit to an email "interview". Here is that interview along with some images he provided. Enjoy!
DH: Can you tell me a bit about your services?
BA: My wife Kim and I run Anthony Restorations, a company dedicated to the restoration and preservation of books, rare paper and original artwork. Last year we reached a milestone when we completed our two-thousandth restoration!
DH: How does dust-jacket restoration affect the value of my book? I thought that it was best to leave books in original condition.
BA: That depends on the individual book, the clientÕs preferences, and the type and extent of restoration needed. Sometimes a small amount of restoration can make a big difference in a books value. For example, if the paper is all there but the interior flaps and spine areas are split, itÕs relatively easy to put the dust jacket back together. A simple surface cleaning can often make a striking difference in a dust-jackets appearance. De-acidification and repairing rips and tears can prevent further damage and deterioration down the road. These are fairly conservative and inexpensive fixes. But more extensive restoration, such as replacing paper, removing tape and stains, and re-creating artwork, becomes more expensive and makes the piece less original. If it is a common and easily acquired dust-jacket, it might make more sense to buy an original, in better condition. But if it is rare, or has personal or sentimental value, restoration is a good option. The answer to your question is very subjective.
DH: Is it obvious that restorations have been done?
BA: A well done restoration should never be obvious. As a general rule, we try to make a dust-jacket look as good as possible without going so far that it becomes obviously restored. ItÕs a fine line to walk, but after doing it for some years you develop a feel for it.
Earths Core Before Restoration 0
Earths Core After Renovation
DH: Is this a process only for very valuable books?
BA: It depends on the type of value youÕre talking about. Some people restore books of sentimental value, it may have been in their family for generations. To them the dollar value is secondary; they will put more into a book than itÕs worth, just to preserve memories. Other people will restore a book to increase its value for re-sale, and they have to weigh how much value will be added by the restoration versus the cost of the work. A good rule of thumb in collecting is to collect what you like. The same generally goes for restoration. Know the value of your book in its current condition, price out the restoration, and see if youÕre comfortable with it. I donÕt like to turn down work but if I think someone is going overboard IÕll let them know.
IÕm sure youÕre wondering what dollar amount weÕre talking about. A dust jacket can be restored for less than a hundred dollars if the repairs are simple. It goes up from there, sometimes substantially. So ask yourself, why do you want to restore this book? To keep it? As an investment? For re-sale? Personal reasons? Research a books value in different conditions; itÕs easy to do on the internet. Talk to us, ask questions, do your homework. Whether a book is worth restoring should not be determined by a formula, but rather by a common-sense evaluation and personal considerations. Put the effort in and youÕll generally come up with the right answer.
With some books the dust-jacket can be more than half of its value, especially if it contains spectacular artwork. The early Edgar Rice Burroughs titles are a good example; they are highly collectible books with gorgeous covers. Kim has restored close to one hundred of these over the years and knowing the type of paper they are printed on, she knows instinctively which mending paper to use. We use about ten different types, and each has its own characteristics, such as strength, thickness and texture. They also react to paint and finishes differently, a good thing to know when recreating artwork!
Sometimes a little preventative maintenance can have beneficial long term consequences. De-acidification and repairing tears will certainly extend the life of the paper. De-acidification neutralizes the acid in the paper and restores the proper PH balance. This keeps the paper from darkening and becoming brittle. And if paper becomes brittle it can easily continue to rip along those tears. So these treatments, which are preservation as much as restoration, are relatively inexpensive and will prevent problems down the road.
De-acidification is not limited to dust jackets, it can be used on the interior pages of books as well. In the last two years we de-acidified about forty large leather-bound volumes – over twelve thousand pages!
DH: Please describe the process.
BA: In broad strokes the restoration process can include cleaning, tape and residue removal, flattening, de-acidification, repairing damage, replacing areas of paper loss, and re-creating lettering and artwork. But each book is unique, and may not require all of the above steps.
Sample of Dustjacket Cleaning
Warlord Before Restoration
Warlord Dustjacket Before Restoration
Warlord Dustjacket After Restoration
DH: Are there any special precautions I need to take with restored jackets? Are they extra sensitive to sunlight or humidity?
BA: There are no special precautions other than those you would take with any valuable book. Preventative measures are always a good investment. Keep your book in a good quality mylar jacket. This not only protects it from dust and moisture, but also supports the paper. Mending papers used in paper restoration are very fine but also very strong, so if a restored dust jacket were to rip it would likely be in the original paper, not in the restored area. So the mylar provides uniform support which protects the paper from stress. Use them on every valuable book, whether restored or un-restored.
Keep the books out of direct sunlight. Keep them out of extreme temperatures. Use common-sense precautions and youÕll be fine.
YouÕd be amazed at some of the backstories behind our restorations. One dealer sent us a badly crushed toy box. He had paid a very substantial amount for this rarity and then accidently sat on it. Another collector sent us a beautiful vintage dust-jacket which was missing a large piece of the top right corner. After hemming and hawing he finally admitted his dog had eaten it! And once we received a very beautiful piece of original comic with water damage and dark rust-colored water stains. The artwork had been found directly under a leaking water heater. IÕd guess that the owner did not know what it was and intentionally placed it there as a blotter. The list goes on.
I should mention that some of the hardest jackets to restore are those that have been previously, poorly restored. IÕm not talking about tape, and some dust jackets are completely covered with it. A client will say Òlook what someone did to this rare-dustjacketÓ but in truth, when they taped it, it was probably worth just a few dollars. And they taped it to preserve it, albeit somewhat low tech! I usually point out that if it wasnÕt taped up it probably wouldnÕt exist at all, and the tape can be removed with no harm to the jacket. ItÕs a matter of perspective.
Badly restored dust-jackets often have a lot of glue on them, which permeates the paper, and you have to get all of that gunk off before making the repairs properly.
DH: How long have you been repairing jackets?
BA: Kim and I have been restoring books and dust-jackets professionally since 1998. I collect silent era film memorabilia, lobby cards and posters, and became involved in paper restoration while learning to preserve my own collection. I took workshops, studied, and practiced. Kim studied painting at the Die Etage School and at the Design Akademie for Visual Communication in Berlin. She studied the restoration of classical paintings at the Berlin Museum, and apprenticed with Klaus Schade, a paper restorationist with fifty years experience.
DH: IÕd like to ask you about a dust-jacket that would benefit from repair. What info do you need?
BA: Generally thereÕs a lot of back and forth between us and the client, either by email or phone. We need to know what you have and what you want done, with as many specifics as possible. Digital photos are helpful. Then IÕll usually have a number of questions. For example, if a dust jacket has tape, is it the newer type scotch tape, or the older vintage cellophane tape? Is it clear or yellowed? The chemical composition of tape changed about fifty years ago, and the newer tapes are easier to remove and, unlike the older tapes, do not stain. Does the jacket have a smell? If you hold it at an oblique angle in the sunlight, does the finish seem consistent or irregular? Based on what you tell me, IÕll have questions.
BA: Is this an expensive project? How do I determine the cost involved?
BA: Again this depends on the jackets condition and the work requested. We can do very economical restorations which involve cleaning, flattening, repairing rips and tears, and de-acidification. When replacing missing portions of a dust-jacket and creating artwork it becomes more expensive. I can give a ballpark estimate by email, and upon receiving a book will examine it and then provide a binding quote, which the client approves before we proceed. So there are never any surprises as to cost.
DH: OK, I have decided to have you repair my jacketÉ now what?
BA: Once we talk it over and I examine the jacket, IÕll make recommendations on how we should proceed. There are often options. A client might request a specific repair, such as Òjust fix the spineÓ. If I had any additional questions I would call you. Really good communication is essential, and I find it makes our clients more comfortable with the process. Most of our clients are extremely pleased with the results, there are a couple of people that have done 100+ restorations with us!
DH: How long will the work take?
BA: It could be three or four weeks, or three months. It depends on the extent of work needed and where you are in the queue. Again, I would give you a time frame once we agreed on what needed to be done.
DH: What are the benefits of jacket repair? Are there any drawbacks?
BA: The jacket will look considerably better, be archivally sound and will last substantially longer. The drawbacks are potentially the cost of repair and that some people do not like restored jackets, a consideration if the book is going to be re-sold. Once again, itÕs very subjective.
DH: What other types of items do you work on?
BA: We restore paintings, original artwork, rare toy boxes, and original movie props. One person asked us to paint his glass eye! My wife Kim restored a fully-armatured dinosaur animation model, the foam rubber covering had disintegrated over the years. She re-sculpted the missing portions of the face and painted the newly created areas, with very impressive results. I have restored a number of silent films, tracking down prints from around the world, compositing them, and creating new inter-titles. Moe HowardÕs daughter asked me to restore her fatherÕs films. Not just prints of the Three Stooges comedies, bur rare and absolutely unique home movies. That was especially gratifying as I am a huge Stooges fan.
Elvis Before Restoration
Elvis After Restoration
DH: How do I contact you about my jacket repairs?
BA: We have a website, www.anthonyrestorations.com, with all of our contact information. We are also on facebook and youtube, just search ÒAnthony RestorationsÓ. Or can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org