Antiquarian books

BADA is the leading trade association for the fine art, design and antiques community. Read our guide to caring for antiquarian books.

Heating and humidity

Antiquarian books need to be stored at a consistent humidity and temperature.

This helps to expansion and contraction which can break joints and cause serious warping.

When storing books on shelves 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.

Joint protection

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.

Before using, 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.

Direct sunlight

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

Protective covers

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.


To view available antique Books, Maps & Manuscripts online click here

To fine BADA members specialising in Books, Maps & Manuscripts click here

For advice on caring for antique Prints & Maps click here

For BADA recommended specialists in packing and shipping antiques and fine art click here