A Glossery of Book Restoration Terms
Easy Site Navigation
David Donahue
Book Restorations
Restorations & Repairs

Design Bindings

Hand Made Clam Shell Boxes

Preserving Memories and Knowledges
1241 Carpenter St. Studio 319
Philadelphia, Pa 19147
Acid free – a neutral PH material.

Archival - means the work and/or materials are normally acid free and reversible.

Backing – the process of putting new material over the spine of a book.

Book Cloth – man made materials used to cover books, that come in a variety of
colors, materials, and textures.  

Blind Stamp or Blind Embossing – creating a 3d impression on a book cover
without any color added.

Bonded leather – also called imitation leather.  It is not leather but leather fibers
sprayed onto a backing with polyurethane.

Calf Skin – a durable leather, often characterized by a red-orange color; used
extensively on 17-19th C. books.   

Clam Shell Box – A book protection device made from archival materials that is
built, to close tolerances for each specific book or incunabula. The preferred
method of all libraries, museums and collectors to protect valuable books.

False Bands/False Cords – a decorative technique used on modern book to
simulate expensive hand binding.  Sometimes used to recreate the original look
when a hollow back tube is added to a tightback book.

French Gutter/French Hinge – a space or gap between the cover boards and the
spine spanned only by the book covering material, designed to reduce stress on the
hinges and spine.

Fly Page – same as the free endpaper.

Goatskin – high quality leather most often used today for fine bindings.  Comes in
many grain patterns.

Hinges – used to hold the book cover to the text block.  Inner hinges can be cords
sewn across the spine; linen strips; paper strips or an open weave material.    
Outer hinges are part of the cover material.

Hinging – the restoration process of attaching loose cover boards with an invasive
and costly backing procedure and usually involve special materials. The types of
hinging include:
Over the spine strapping – layers of hinge material are glued over the spine and
onto the edges of the cover boards.
Vertical hinging – materials are laid directly over the original and broken spine
hinge and glued to the covers and spine in a very narrow band. Hidden Hinging -
the cover boards and/or the spine material is lifted away a few centimeters and the
hinging material is glued under the original materials for a better end result
appearance.  High skill level required to do this correctly. Inside only hinging –
often uses strong papers laid over the inner gutter and held fast to the text block.  
Not very strong.

Hollow Back – a tri-fold tube made from materials that inserts between the text
block and the cover material, and opens like a fish mouth to reduce spine strain
when opening a book.  Fails often which can lead to major spine issues if
uncorrected.  Cheap to fix if caught early.

Japanese tissues or papers – hand made papers, with no grain lines and of
extraordinary high strength used extensively in archival book restorations.

Jaconet – a mesh material used as inner hinges on mass-produced hard cover
books.  Also called crush or mull.

Library Marks - stamps, numbers, and cardholders etc that indicate a book was
once owned by a library.  Library marks will devalue a book substantially
regardless of book condition.  Removal of such raises many ethical issues for

Linen – a super strong cloth material used for replacement hinges.

Marble Papers – decorative papers, often hand made used for end papers and fly

Paste Papers – hand made acid free papers used for end papers and covers.

Perfect Binding – a glue only binding, typically found on paperback books, now on
modern hard cover bindings. Cheap and prone to sudden failure.

Red Rot – a leather failure condition exhibited when leather comes off the book as
reddish dust.   

Rebacking – the process of repairing or restoring a spine on a binding with
materials like the original binding; sometimes using part of the original binding,
sometimes with different materials altogether.   

Resewing – the conservation process of talking apart a book and putting it back
together by sewing the sections.  

Reversible – any conservation process that can be undone without permanently
harming the original materials.

Sewing Threads -  an integral part of the book structure that holds most
everything together.  

Signature Sections – a group of pages printed and folded together as a unit, and
then sewn together with other signatures to form a text block.

Square – the proper alignment of the text block and covers, when the book is well
assembled and parts are tight.

Tightback – a form of binding where the cover material, is glued directly over the
exposed spine.  Produces damaging stress on the spine material when the book is
opened.   Used extensively until the mid 19th century, and used today used by fine
binders for it’s magnificent final appearance.

Titling – the process of labeling a book. The title can be stamped directly on the
cover; applied with a cloth or leather label.  Titling is usually done with stamping
machines, but for pre-18th C books hand titles are often desired.

Treatment report – a written report issued by a book conservator listing all
materials, processes and methods used to restore a particular book.
“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”
― Stephen Fry