Consultations are available by appointment : please email stephanie.gibbs@gmail.com or telephone (413) 570-0077.
Bible restorationspaper repairunusual items – rebacked books: leather – rebacked books: Japanese paper
custom boxes and enclosureshistoric bookbindings
When a cover is detached from a book, then rebacking — remaking the spine — is done, using a range of materials.
Books were often originally bound in calfskin, goatskin, or sheepskin,
and it is desirable to repair the book using materials which match the original as closely as possible in grain and color. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Recueil de Divers Voyages

A full vellum binding, that had been previously repaired as a calf reback, repaired again as a calf reback.

The original endbands were stabilized with Japanese tissue; the spine was lined with Japanese paper and a hollow. A new leather spine of dyed Hewit calfskin was fitted to the text.

The original vellum and the leather from the previous reback were lifted from the boards to incorporate the new spine leather.

A new label was stamped for the spine.


Darwin Zoonomia,

2 volumes, highly degraded spine leather, broken hinges, heavily tooled.

The original, tooled spines were lifted from the spines of the books, and the leather spines mounted onto Japanese paper to stabilize the highly degraded leather and tooling.
Where original endbands were extant, they were stabilized in place with Japanese paper. New endbands to replace those missing were made of linen. The spines of the books were remade out of Hewit's calfskin, and adhered under the lifted cover leather.
The original spines were reattached over the new leather spines.

Prynne's Plea for the Lords (1658)
The sewing cords were over sewn and the spine lined with Japanese paper and cotton. A calfskin from Hewit's was toned to match the existing leather.

leather reback
leather reback

To form the spine liner for the book, the volume was wrapped in cling film and placed in a finishing press, where a paper mache hollow was made using Japanese paper. The leather was worked into place, by lining the spine liner up with the raised cords, and then smoothing the leather onto the boards. The turn-ins were then formed, and the headcaps. The original label was incorporated onto the new spine.

leather reback
leather reback

John Holwell: Practical Surveyor [London, 1678]
This volume had been repaired many times in the past; the 'before' photo shows evidence of a previous repair piece of leather. There was no evidence that the original binding had a leather spine label. Rather, the title was inscripted in ink along the head of the textblock. Page mend title page. Reback volume using dyed Hewit's calfskin, mount original spine, remove old repairs and consolidate leather using Klucel-G.

leather reback
leather reback

Lebourn's Surveying (1652)
Lift fabric hinge repair at front of book. Remove and wash first three and last two pages. Page mend first three pages using toned Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.

leather reback
leather reback

Lift original spine from book, mount on Japanese paper. Clean spine of book and line with Japanese paper.
Lift leather along board edges of cover; reback book using dyed Hewit's calfskin. Remount original spine.
Reinforce inner joints with Japanese tissue.

leather reback
leather reback


Please email stephanie.gibbs@gmail.com or telephone (413) 570-0077 for an appointment.
©All text copyright the original author [as quoted] and Stephanie Gibbs