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[BKARTS] wire loop in binding

Thanks to everyone who responded to my query about the wire loop in the
spine of a book I'm repairing right now.  (Pictures at:

Various answers were given (sorry, there were too many to give proper credit
for all of them...)

1) To hold a page marker, such as a ribbon) in place.  The most likely
reason to use a wire loop was to be able to replace the ribbon as it frayed
or wore out.

2) As a way to trigger a security alarm.  This might work in a metal
detector type alarm system, where a mass of metal such as the twisted part
of the wire could set off the alarm.  Maybe people more familiar with old
alarm systems could comment more on this.

3) As a means to secure the book to a desk or shelf, like the medieval
bindings being chained to the wall.  I really don't think this is the case,
since the wire is not secured into the binding very well.  I gently pulled
on the wire and the paper began to tear with hardly any pressure.  One
interesting theory in this direction, though, was that the book was a "Boots
Pharmacy" copy (see Derek Bryant's post from 1/23/03).  There is no sign of
a label inside the front cover at the tail, so I don't think we have a long
lost Boot's book at Dartmouth.  Too bad, that would be an interesting
provenance for the book.

Again, thanks for all who responded.  As I think I mentioned, this is not a
volume in special collections and came down to have its hinges tightened and
spine repaired.  We will remove the metal hook (since metal and paper
shouldn't mix) and return it to the stacks.  I may keep the wire loop in my
box of Interesting Things I've Found In Books (playing cards -- getting
close to a full deck :-); a pencil drawing of a Civil War soldier in a
contemporary volume; and in the same book a small leather "V" with a metal
circle, perhaps from a Civil War uniform?) and I also have the pictures of
the wire loop in case someone posts a query about one they found in their
book in the future.


 Eric Alstrom      Collections Conservator
 Dartmouth College      Hanover, NH
 603-646-1452      eric.c.alstrom@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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