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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).



Friday, January 27, 2012

Repairing and binding an old newspaper

I decided it's time to actually use the blog!  I've done quite a few interesting projects and think it is time to share some of them.  I have more video ideas to do, but am kind of waiting until I can get a better camera.

This week I finished working on the first issue of The Christian Science Monitor.  It was given to me to make usable again.  Though I don't have a picture of it, it was rolled up.  In fact it looked like it was rolled up the day it came out and never read.  A bit of a challenge, working on a newspaper which has been rolled up since 1908!

Obviously it had issues and challenges.  The main problem was flattening it without causing more problems.  The fold had abraded in the first three pages (it was six pages long).

I flattened it after immersing it in water and washed it a few times to lower the pH of the paper and then sized it to give the paper a bit more body.

Then I encapsulated the pages between two pieces of mylar, an inert plastic. It is floating between the sheets, and can be taken out at any time in the future without damaging the paper.

The advantage of this treatment is the the paper is fully readable, and can be handled without any further damage.

Here is the final product:

The pages in this were sewn together, instead of the more standard use of post screws.  I feel this is more secure and, since all the pages were there, I felt it was more important to make it difficult to separate the pages from each other.

From the pictures, the mylar looks distractingly shiny, but they're not and the paper can be easily read.  Needless to say it was a very fun project in many ways, not the least is working on something that large.

I have a more detailed description of the process used to preserve this newspaper in another blog post:


  1. Lovely work, and thank you for your video on the plough - I have shown it to a friend who will help me make one... Can't buy them here in Australia.

    Have you considered putting bloggers subscribe by email gadget on your blog? It would be great to get your blog updates by email. :D


    ~Sonya, from the Sago On Tuesdays bindery~

  2. Thanks for your comments Sonya. Hopefully I did the email thing correctly, I appreciate the suggestion.

    And, good luck with the plough. You can buy the sleds without the rest of the press and then make the jaws, etc. to fit it, if that makes any sense.

    Thanks again, Sonya.

  3. This looks great! I like your idea of sewing the mylar pages together. Is it as large as a modern newspaper? I loved seeing all of the old images.

    1. Yes it was probably a bit larger than today's papers, but close. It made for a quite large cover, which was pretty fun to make but I wouldn't necessarily want to work on projects of that scale all the time.

    2. Wow, massive! I hear you, fun, but not everyday fun :)

  4. At first the result is so beautiful and useful. But I have a question: What kind of slides are they? Did you laminate them? Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Sakidio,

      Thank you for your response. The pages aren't laminated, instead they are floating between two pieces of mylar. The mylar is held together using double sided archival tape.

      After reading your question I decided to push up the post showing this process in a bit more detail. It will be posted tomorrow morning (Arizona time) so if you check back in a day or two the newest post will have more photographs and descriptions of this process.

      Please let me know if you have any further questions.

    2. The more detailed post about this process is now here:

  5. Firstly, I would like to thank you, your post it's like a gift to me. However I would try it within a few months and I will post you photos with the results. Thank you again.

    1. Wonderful! Let me know if you have any questions. Look forward to the photos.