Advice on caring for antiquarian books from the British Antique Dealers' Association
Heating and humidity
Antiquarian books need to be stored at a consistent humidity and temperature.
This avoids expansion and contraction which can break joints and cause serious warping.
If using shelving, make sure that you are not covering damp walls.
Antiquarian books can appear fine from the spine while the fore-edges are dampstained and suffering from fungal issues.
The most delicate part of the construction of a book is the joint or hinge, which can suffer from drying out.
This can be prevented with a regular application of a mild leather dressing such as Marney’s Conservation Dressing
Always test on an inconspicuous area of the book, apply very lightly at first and never use on sheep or reversed calf, to avoid damaging the suede-like finish.
Bright natural light will fade antiquarian books over time and accelerate the drying process.
U.V. resistant window filters or closing curtains on bright days will help protect your collection.
Handling antiquarian books
Always support the front cover when opening an antiquarian book, never leave it dangling by its own weight.
Never pull a book from a shelf by putting a finger on the headcap at the top of the spine.
Antiquarian books with cloth bindings and dust-jackets can be damaged when picked up with damp or moist hands.
To minimise the risk, cover your books in loose jackets of mylar or acetate.
These can be purchased in rolls from graphics supply stores.
Secure these jackets by folding the material around the fore-edges of the books, to allow circulation of air under the material.
Avoid adhesive tape as it will stain the opposite endpaper.
Loose page repairs
Do not attempt to repair loose pages or covers without first seeking professional advice.
Nearly all brands of tape and many types of glue are harmful to books and it may not be possible to repair the resulting damage.