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Subject: Book cradles

Book cradles

From: Dagmar Hinz <dhinzuk>
Date: Friday, August 1, 2003
Tony Kelly <tonyk [at] digital-lucida__com__au> writes

>We are looking at a cradle that will adequately support a range of
>book sizes, though nothing extraordinarily large. I'm particularly
>interested in the correct angle to incorporate to minimise any
>strain on the bindings whilst still holding the book open enough to

Whilst working as a conservator for the Scottish Archive Network a
decision had to be made about the book cradles to be bought for
digitising bound wills and testaments. For the newer (about 19th
century onwards) volumes, which were generally in very good
conditions, 180 degree book cradles seemed appropriate. They had the
advantage that two pages could be digitised at the same time. We
chose a cradle from IKM (03-29 BWA180).

The older volumes were of much greater concern. They were more
fragile and therefore required a more gentle book cradle. They also
had writing reaching far into the gutter margins. Since they were at
some stage rebound with very tight bindings, they did not open very
well. Our main requirements were therefore that as much information
as possible could be digitised whilst not compromising the safety of
the binding. Since in some instances not all of the writing could be
seen even when looking at the volume itself, a compromise had to be

Fortunately we found that preferred opening of the volumes with less
than 180 degrees enabled us to digitise more of the writing in the
gutter, because this opening reduced the curve of the leaves. To
help us decide on a specific cradle we bound a dummy book and tested
it on various cradles on the market. The dummy book had writing all
through the folds of the sections and was bound in a similar tight
style. We found that the cradle that enabled us to digitise the most
information was the IKM 120 degree book cradle. This was despite the
fact that some writing was distorted by the edge of the covering
glass. At the same time this cradles opening angle is gentle on the
binding. It's easy to operate and the page is held still by a glass
plate. SCAN therefore decided to purchase this model. Today it is
not manufactured separately anymore but comes as an optional
attachment to the 180 degree model.

You can see from the above that the type of cradle you require can
depend on the material you will be working with. The best choice for
you might well be different from SCAN's. If you want to know more
about the cradles we tested and our results you will soon be able to
find my end of project conservation report on the SCAN web site
<URL:> . This includes an appendix with the
report my former line manager Peter Dickson wrote on the cradle

IKM's contact details are:

    IKM Micrographic GmbH
    Gartenstrasse 38
    D-61209 Echzell
    +49 6008 282
    Fax: +49 6008 7902

Dagmar Hinz
6/2 Whitson Way
EH11 3BJ

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:18
                  Distributed: Tuesday, August 5, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-18-007
Received on Friday, 1 August, 2003

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