Tools to keep the pages turning

"The Booklover's Repair Kit," complete with its accompanying volume, "The Booklover's Repair Manual," is a welcome and overdue accessory for one's home library.

The kit contains an array of necessary repair items such as pH-neutral adhesive, a rosin-filled cloth for cleaning documents and maps, archival repair tape, and a manual of instruction for applying them. The manual contains vivid and elaborate drawings of repair procedures by Timothy Ely. In its margins are numerous quotes from a diverse array of literary figures including, among others, Emerson, Cicero, and Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Topics of repair include: "Troubles Inside Your Books" - tears in pages, reattaching pages, etc.; "Injuries to the Outside of Your Books" such as reinforcing loose covers, repairing dust jackets, etc.; "Mending Your Paperbacks"; and "Cleaning and Care of Your Books."

At the rear is a glossary of terms of book components and a bibliography for further reading as well as conservation resources to consult.

Perhaps most important, as the authors explain, no previous experience is required. This promises ultimately to be an instructive and enjoyable lesson in book conservation.

Everything about the production is elegant, from the gilt-stamped, smooth parchment boards of the manual to the decorative interior of the solander clamshell box surrounding its contents. It is designed to sit on one's shelf unobtrusively with the sentimental literary treasures one has acquired over a lifetime.

As Estelle Ellis states in her preface, "It is not intended to help people care for their first editions or to restore collector's books of historical value. This booklover's repair kit was created to enable 'ordinary' people to fix the 'ordinary' books they treasure and can't bear to part with."

As an antiquarian bookseller, I have personally used many of the tools included here, but I had to acquire them separately, and generally at significant cost. With the kit, I had all available at once, and in applying them to my stock I was pleased with their performance. I used the glue for some cracked inner hinges and the document tape to repair small tears in a title page. The results were quite satisfactory.

At $125, this is the perfect accessory for the antiquarian book lover or book enthusiast who does not always have the necessary time for tracking down these items. In an age where personal libraries are making a profound and timely return to prominence, "The Booklover's Repair Kit" is a welcome accouterment.

Christopher Hartman is a Boston dealer specializing in rare books on genealogy and Americana.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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