The Current Use of Leather in Book Conservation

Tuesday, May 29 • 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, $99 including lunch

Be part of the first AIC symposium devoted to Leatherwork in Book Conservation.   

Leather has long been used as a repair material for damaged leather bindings. The working properties of historic leathers can be very different than modern ones. In recent years, conservators have begun to employ other materials, such as paper or cast acrylic, as an alternative to leather in book conservation treatments. Tanned animal skins offer less long-term stability and may be more difficult to prepare than other materials, but may also provide better strength and flexibility in a functioning book. Should conservators continue to employ leather using traditional book repair techniques on leather bindings? Should we abandon the use of tanned skins in favor of more chemically stable materials? Do alternative book repair materials really stand up to the mechanical stresses of use? Be part of the debate and register for the symposium.

Here is a brief sampling of the talks:

  • A virtual tour of J Hewit & Sons – discover how bookbinding leathers are produced. 
  • An exploration of over 50 years of book conservation at the Boston Athenæum.  
  • A comparison of the use of customized acrylic cast into reusable silicone molds as an alternative to traditional methods
  • An examination of SINTEVA Cuir as an alternative to leather
  • A study of the applications of Japanese papers as a leather replacement
  • An evaluation of the characteristics of bindings suitable for repair using tanned leather and a summary of the training needed to execute these repairs and an exploration of the suitability of cosmetic treatments that may alter the appearance of a historic binding.
  • A panel discussion of the Library of Congress’s treatment protocols and case studies of when traditional leather or other materials were used.
  • A report on the leather discussion group’s study on why modern leather deteriorates faster than older leather  

Read a complete listing of talks and abstracts.