Form and Function: The Genius of the Book highlights the important conservation work taking place at the Folger. Our world-class conservation team works diligently to protect and maintain our priceless collection.
Your support of this important initiative will provide the funding we need to keep our collection in the best working order and available for audiences in Washington, across the country, and around the world. Below are examples from this exhibition that show the range of work that items need to be able to be protected and maintained so they are available to everyone.
Gift forms are available next to the exhibition pamphlets in the Folger's Great Hall, or you may fill out and return this form by email or regular mail to:
Samuel Rowlands (1570?–1630?)
A theater of delightfull recreation
London: R. Field for A. Johnson, 1605
Folger STC 21408
The textblock of this volume of satirical verse is made up of nine unbound printed sections, and it shows evidence of at least two prior bindings.
The paper is extremely soft, with extensive tears and losses, and there are areas of severe insect damage. The first and last few leaves are heavily soiled.
Clean the leaves with great care to avoid damaging weak paper. Reduce stains. Mend tears. Sew the textblock over raised cords in the position of the original sewing supports. Attach the spine lining and lace on boards.
Henry Wharton (1664-1695)
Fourteen sermons preach’d in Lambeth Chapel : before the most Reverend Father in God Dr. William Sancroft, late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. In the years MDCLXXXVIII. MDCLXXXIX. By the learned Henry Wharton, M.A. chaplain to His Grace. With an account of the authors life.
London : Printed for Ri. Chiswell at the Rose and Crown in St. Pauls Church Yard, MDCXCVII. 
Folger 145- 834q
This book of sermons retains its original binding. The sewing structure is quite robust, but the covering leather is missing at the head and tail panels of the spine and split at the joints.
Carefully remove the leather at the spine. Shape the textblock into a gentle round and consolidate the spine with paste. Replace missing endband at the tail. Line the spine with paper. Infill losses at the head and tail of the spine with repair leather.
Henry Marsh (active 1663-1664)
A new survey of the Turkish empire and government in a brief history deduced to this present time, and the reign of the now Grand Seignior, Mahomet the IV, the present and XIV emperor : with their laws, religion, and customs : as also an account of the siege of Newhausel.
London : Printed by Ja. Cottrel for Henry Marsh, 1663
Folger 146- 337q
This book covers the social and military history of the Turkish empire during the 15th-17th century and includes engraved prints of the Sultan Mehmed IV and other heads of state.
The book is unfortunately not available to researchers due to its condition. The textblock is fully split in the center, the front board is detached, and the endband is attached by only a single thread.
Clean spine of old adhesives and linings, rejoin broken sewing supports at the split in the textblock and at the front joint. Reback with paper.
Plutarch (circa 46–120)
The lives of the noble Grecians and Romans
London: Richard Field for Bonham Norton, 1595
Folger STC 20067 copy 4
The binding is not as old as the textblock, and it has undergone at least one round of repairs. The spine is rebacked in brown calfskin, and the bottom corners are repaired with the same material.
Both the front and back joints are split. The early textblock leaves are crudely repaired and turn poorly.
Remove old repair leather from the spine and boards. Clean, round, and line the spine. Remove poorly functioning old paper repairs and mend leaves. Attach boards with cotton spine linings, and reback the spine with new leather.
Paolo Paruta (1540–1598)
Venice: Domenico Nicolini, 1599
Folger DG81 .P3 1599 Cage
The binding of this book about ancient and modern governments appears original. It was likely constructed as a slotted-spine binding.
The parchment cover is extensively damaged with large areas of loss. The sewing structure is largely intact, though some of the first leaves are loose. The spine is somewhat "out of round" and leaves are protruding at the foredge. Spine linings are detached.
Secure the loose leaves. Shape the spine into an even round and consolidate it. Line the spine and adhere detached spine linings.
Adhere the alum-tawed lining on the middle sewing support. Create similar linings for the two supports where they are missing. Fill losses in the board and parchment cover.
John Redding, (1588-1667)
A guide to the Holy City. Or, Directions and helps to an holy life : containing rules of religious advice, with prayers in sundry cases, and estates, necessary for those who are not of heart so enlarged, as to advise themselves, or to conceive comfortable prayers according to their present wants. By Iohn Reading B.D. and sometimes student in Magdalen Hall in Oxford.
Oxford : Printed [by Henry Hall] for Thom. Robinson, and Rich: Davis, 1651.
Folger 146- 543q
This English work on piety retains an original – though severely damaged – binding. The blackened leather is extremely friable. Even gentle handling causes the degraded leather to powder.
Remove the leather from the front and back boards for storage separate from the book. Clean and consolidate the textblock spine. Repair alum-tawed sewing supports where they are broken at the front joint. Consolidate and repair boards. Cover in brown vegetable tanned leather.
Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1624?–1674)
Poems, and phancies
London: William Wilson, 1664.
It is somehow fitting that a book including dozens of poems about atoms should be in pieces. The leather cover is missing entirely at the spine. Both boards are detached, with sewing supports broken at the shoulder. Sewing and supports are broken in several locations and the textblock is split into four sections. Flyleaves at the front and back are detached.
Clean the spine of old, brittle adhesive. Repair sewing supports where they are broken and repair broken areas of sewing. Consolidate the spine with paste. Attach loose endleaves.
Re-adhere loose areas of the leather cover. Lift leather from the boards near the spine. Attach boards with overhanging cotton spine lining. Reback the spine with leather.
Giovanni Gioviano Pontano (1429-1503)
Pontani De Prudentia : ac deinceps alii de Philosophia libri : ut per indicem qui in calce operis est : licet uidere / [edidit] P. Summontius]
[Neapoli] : [1508?]
This Latin philosophy text is bound in a simple limp parchment binding. A spine lining is made of recycled parchment manuscript waste.
The sewing is substantially intact, but the parchment cover is suffering from splits at the spine and turn-ins.
Mend broken endband cores, which form the attachment to the cover. Mend splits and losses in the parchment cover with toned Japanese paper. Reinforce cover-to-textblock attachment to alleviate stress on endband cores.
A list of the benefits at Drury Lane Theatre [manuscript], 1767-1793
Folger W.a. 39
This theater scrapbook includes both manuscript and printed material. The amateur binding is likely the work of its owner and includes the recycled cover of an unrelated binding.
In its current condition, many sections and leaves are loose. Much of the sewing thread is broken and weak.
Mend tears. Flatten folds that obscure text or manuscript. Reinforce weak and broken sewing. Reattach front cover.
Account Book, Drury Lane Theatre at Covent Garden
This ledger records daily ticket sales at London’s Drury Lane Theater during the years of 1834-1835. The ledger presents a record of the performances in production during that time.
The binding is a “spring-back ledger”, designed for the rigorous demands of account books. The structure is functioning poorly in its current condition. Furthermore, the leather cover is extremely degraded and powders away with use.
Repair structural elements of the “spring-back” mechanism. Consolidate friable leather cover with a dilute mist of cellulose ether adhesive in propanol. Infill losses in the cover with repair leather.