Sunday, August 07, 2011

What to do with those dirty or damaged books?

Books can present cleaning and restoration challenges when stains, dust, and other foreign substances invade the covers or leaves, or when a book's structural integrity has been compromised.

I recently came across some YouTube videos that offer inventive methods for the maintenance and restoration of dirty or damaged books. You'll want to hold onto your leg for the first one and I'm not so sure Rube Goldberg didn't have something to do with the second one. The last one may require general anesthesia. A sense of humor would also help.

Up first, here's a guy who starts out with a certain air of authority and then rapidly spirals into a farce of epic proportions. As the video rolled, I thought I was tapping into an old trade secret, albeit unconventional by initial appearances. Unconventional methods yielded quickly to serious doubt and laughter upon the realization I'd been had. And it kept getting worse. Please don't try this with your books!

Next up is an interesting contraption for automating the dusting and cleaning of a large amount of books as you would find in a library. Following the previous video, I was a bit skeptical going into it. Presenting the Depulvera...

And finally... Book to the OR... STAT!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Rare South African book recalls Luke Limner

I just came across this BBC article about a rare South African book believed to be the first French book, as well as the first travel narrative, published in South Africa. The book, whose title translates in English to Account Of The Wreck Of The French Ship The Eole In April 1829, was discovered by Dr. David Culpin of St. Andrews University.

The book is also important because the survivors of the shipwreck provide detail about contemporary events, including their interactions with indigenous people, the Xhosa, who were featured in a book I sold earlier this week: Red Blanket Valley, by Joan A. Broster

But there's another book I'm reminded of that I haven't let get away: Pen & Ink Sketches in Parliament, by Limner; published by the “Monitor” Office, Castle-Street, Capetown (South Africa) in 1855. I wrote about this interesting little volume nearly five years ago on this blog. See Hunting a Limner in South Africa, 1855.

Interesting in its own right, it still pales in comparison with Dr. Culpin's treasure. But it needs no translation into English and it's chock-full of contemporary views of Capetown life as well as ads for Capetown merchants.

Also important is the fact that Luke Limner was the pseudonym of an important book designer of the 19th century: John Leighton. Leighton was a writer (satirist), as well as a designer of books, fine bindings, and bookplates.