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Re: [BKARTS] Leather conditioning

Quoting Minsky's response to mine:

>>>As I said, cosmetic improvement is important to me, and most of the
bindings I oil are my own, which are not shellacked.

That may be the essential point. The initial query appeared to be about dressing bindings in a general and ad hoc way -- and, at least in my experience, indiscriminate dressing appears fraught with danger(s).  

>>>I haven't used BM formula either, because I found the proportion of beeswax
excessive the first time I tried it. 

I have no experimental evidence to back up the proposition, but I have had a suspicion from time to time that the appropriate proportion of beeswax may have something to do with general conditions of relative humidity, the US being generally drier (particularly with widespread air conditioning) than Great Britain. 

>>>None of the responses so far have provided any real information.  It's all
fudgy experiential notions based on unquantified hearsay. 

Well, not really.  There was no doubt about either the damage to spines and the inner leaves of sheets from wicking, nor were the recently dressed but now "tacky" bindings imagined.

>>>Of course if you overoil at the hinge it will damage the inside, because most hinges are
pared very thin. Of course you can't oil red rot.

Ah, true... but there seem to be folks, even folks of some sophistication and training, who appear inclined to do this -- in sympathy for the decaying creature lying in front of them, I suppose.  I've experienced the yearning.  I take it we agree this is unwise. 

>>>I still believe a 13th century Italian binding that was made of properly
tanned leather is better off being oiled properly than left to dry out, and
the recent indiscriminate practice adopted by some people of not dressing
any leather bindings regardless of tannage is going to be regarded in the
future as one of the biggest errors of book maintenance ever perpetrated.

Well, I don't think we had any 13th century bindings at Chicago to dress -- at least mighty few -- but there were certainly 16th and 17th and 18th century bindings that were (apparently) shellacked (probably in the late 19th century) and dressing resulted in "tackiness" when dressing was applied in the late 20th century.

Cordially -------- Sid Huttner, The University of Iowa Libraries     

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