Tape is Evil: A Cookbook Repair Project

Below is my description along with photos and video of a recent book repair project of a 1954 copy of Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking.

Lots of tape

The owner had used tape around the spine to hold the book together. Tape is the enemy of books. I could not believe how many layers of tape were on there. There was also significant water staining and many of the pages, especially in the index, were brittle at the ends and had already torn. There were multiple tears on the pages on the inside as well as corners that had been folded down or dog-eared and then tore off. One side of the cover had a large imprint from an old spiral burner where the book must have been accidentally placed when it was still hot. The colorful front sheets showing a turkey feast had become detached.

Set on a hot burner? 

The owner wanted to be able to continue to use this book in the kitchen. Therefore, this was more a process of making the book practically useful as well as trying to prevent any further deterioration. The cookbook has sentimental value as well so I wanted to balance the two needs.

The original cover was not repairable and the spine, including the title had been eaten away by the tape. I created a new cover in as close to the original color as I could. I added new endsheets.

I did extensive Japanese paper repairs on the inside of the text block using wheat paste. The last of the index pages were so brittle that it did not make sense to tip them in. The owner also wanted to be able to reference them. I decided to use mylar incapsulation of these pages and create a separate booklet that could be tucked into the back or next to the cookbook on the shelf if she needed to reference those pages.

In this example, the entire corner of the page was torn off. I used Japanese paper to make the corner stable. 












Below are some “before” photos. You can see how much tape was holding the book together and how much damage that did.


Here was the state of the text block:

Here is a video showing the new book cover and the mylar enclosure for the index pages:


To finish off the project, I typeset the title of the cookbook and printed a new spine label on my tabletop printing press. The original spine label was no longer legible and could not be pasted back together. This cookbook is now back in the kitchen and ready for use for at least another few decades.

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