When the bible is opened, even when supported with foam wedges, strain is placed on the sewing supports and the sewing. This is in part due to the distorted spine shape which causes localised compression of the sewing supports and secondly, the lack of spine liners or covering material to control the movement of the spine when the Bible is opened.
It was decided to remove the stitching which attaches the cloth repair to the shoulders of the Bible.
Beneath the cloth the only attached support on the spine was animal glue of uneven thickness.
However we did find something interesting which was lying loose between the cloth and the spine; a tawed leather strap. It is not clear what the connection is with the Bible, so perhaps this was an attempt to stop the spine distorting too much when the Bible was opened?
The animal glue was removed from the spine using a paste poultice. It then became clear that many of the sections had been stab stitched and that this had caused the tops of the section folds to split in parts of the book.
It was therefore necessary to repair these before any reshaping of the spine could be undertaken.
As one needs to go through the Bible to check for this damage, any other essential repairs to the pages could be undertaken at the same time. Where the paper is weak as a result of water damage the pages are consolidated using Hydroxypropyl cellulose dissolved in Ethanol (Klucel G). Repairs use Japanese tissue attached with wheat starch paste.
In the next posting I shall show you the progress we are making on these repairs.