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Re: [BKARTS] wax in leather-bound book repair

Dear May,

Its not unknown for the final step of traditional leather binding
"refurbishing" to be a wax coating.  It makes everything shiny and
adds a layer that could protect the covering material from dirt and
sweat etc. of handling.  Dressing and waxing is a tradition in many
types of leather-work.

Colored wax, like shoe cream products have also found there way into
binderies, often to help achieve the best final leather color match.

These waxes could all have a witches brew of solvents, fats and oils
in them, and waxes have been known to "bloom" and cover the book with
a white powder, not to mention that "Brilwax" smell! Elements of the
wax could also migrate toward the textblock, with serious

The Leather  Conservation Centre in England makes an leather wax
called SC6000 which is acrylic based, seems to form a discreet layer
on top of the leather and  is carried by a fairly benign solvent.
They recommend testing this wax on a unobtrusive area to watch for
color change and changes to the grain layer.  This wax is not
recommended for use on degraded leather. The wax is available from


Consuela Metzger
Instructor in Book Conservation
The University of Texas at Austin
School of Information
The Preservation/Conservation Studies Program
1 University Station D7000
Austin, TX 78712-1276
(512) 471-8293
(512) 471-8285 (fax)

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