Looking after old books

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What do you lot do to look after your old books (as in, a hundred years old, that sort of age)?

I did a little reading and the advice I found was just to put them on a bookcase, ideally lying flat, in little stacks, and try to keep the humidity low to moderate. It's less protection than I was expecting.

My last house had rising damp, and the garage roof leaked, so really nothing was safe and I'm now paranoid. (My current place is mostly dry, but I don't trust it!) But I now have a few books at around 100 years plus, and I want to pass them on in more or less the condition I found them.
 

book collector

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What do you lot do to look after your old books (as in, a hundred years old, that sort of age)?

I did a little reading and the advice I found was just to put them on a bookcase, ideally lying flat, in little stacks, and try to keep the humidity low to moderate. It's less protection than I was expecting.

My last house had rising damp, and the garage roof leaked, so really nothing was safe and I'm now paranoid. (My current place is mostly dry, but I don't trust it!) But I now have a few books at around 100 years plus, and I want to pass them on in more or less the condition I found them.
I always stood them up like a library would firmly in a row so they didn't lean and mess the covers or spines up. The main thing after damp is sunlight, make sure they are no where near a window facing East West or South unless the sunlight is blocked. Even a North window is bad because of the humidity most let in. Also I covered the tops of my books with a piece of cloth to keep dust off , you would be surprised 5 or 10 years will go by and the dust can leave bad stains. Most 100 year old books already have some issues but I have had a few that looked almost brand new . You certainly want to preserve those the best you can . Also I liked to put the new {old} books I bought in a container with something to kill mites , mildew fungus etc. when I first received them Lots of books from foreign countries that I bought had issues like that , you don't want to contaminate your collection. You can put them in a tupperware container and put them in the freezer for 24 hours but would I only do that with books that were not real valuable, say less than 100.00 and only 1 at a time . That way if something goes wrong it doesn't wreck you.
If the book just smells funky put it in a container with baking soda in a cup for a few days , that usually helps a lot.
I need to add, if the books spine is damaged or pages are loose I would lie them flat and only a few stacked on each other , otherwise I think standing them is the way to go. Not too tight, but not so loose they lean over. Also put books of similar height beside each other if possible.
 
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The mites thing never even occurred to me, thanks. Was there a specific product you used for that?
 

Bob Jewett

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Another area you might want to get into is repair and restoration. There is special, nearly invisible, and very thin mending tape for book repair that's the single most useful item. It makes fragile paper usable.

I have also restored/recreated a number of dust covers. My best job was to replace the cover of the 1890 paperback by Prof. J.F.B. McCleery. Before and after:

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Detail of the text on the cover:
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Looking good! Are you still planning to republish McCleery? (I didn't realize the original was paperback.)

Repair and restoration sounds like a good skill to have. Was there any particular learning source you'd recommend?
 

Chicagoplayer

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Another area you might want to get into is repair and restoration. There is special, nearly invisible, and very thin mending tape for book repair that's the single most useful item. It makes fragile paper usable.

I have also restored/recreated a number of dust covers. My best job was to replace the cover of the 1890 paperback by Prof. J.F.B. McCleery. Before and after:

View attachment 617702
View attachment 617703

Detail of the text on the cover:
View attachment 617704
Absolutely wonderful Bob! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
 

book collector

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The mites thing never even occurred to me, thanks. Was there a specific product you used for that?
I prefer the freezer method most of the time for mites . I originally said I used Boraxo , I did ! Then I remembered don't do that , talcum is even worse. Also Diatomaceous Earth . All for 1 main reason and a couple of other bad effects. Ink never completely dries. So the powders stick to some places and the more you try to remove it , the worse mess it makes. Talcum smells forever and the Diatomaceous Earth is not good to breathe for people with lung problems.
I know the silica will kill the bugs quickly, but I was under the impression, it only works, if the bugs crawl through it , but I could be wrong.
 
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We used to keep hens, and we used diatomaceous earth for them. I guess it's the same principle.
I never knew ink didn't completely dry. I'd expected book care to be complex, then from what I'd found online it seemed like it really wasn't. It's reassuring to know that it is, after all!
 
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