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Old 18th Jun 2021, 4:33 pm   #1
vinrads
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Default Cleaning radio related books.

Not sure if this is in the correct place to ask so here goes.

I am looking for some ideas on how to clean some very old Harmsworth's wireless Encyclopaedia. I have three volumes, very interesting reading, to say they are about 100 years old they are in fair condition, Mick.
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 5:52 pm   #2
G6Tanuki
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

What needs cleaning? If it's the outer covers then I'd suggest just a light dusting with a can of dry air [as used for cleaning computers/keyboards] - perhaps also with a bit of brushing with a bristle paintbrush to help dislodge any long-accreted dust.

The pages themselves may well be 'foxed', that being the technical term for the reddish, vaguely-rust-like discolouration that comes from acids within the paper reacting with air - old paper can become embrittled this way. Controlled humidity is important for long-term storage.

And remember that the glues used historically in book-binding often contained either animal-based protein-glue [they boiled-down old horses to make it] or starch - both of which can attract insects - the famed 'book-worms' and equally-nasty book-lice - who see old books as a tasty meal! If you have either of these then freezing, or storage in an atmosphere of pure CO2 are the archivist's favourite cures.
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 6:18 pm   #3
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

I have a few 100+ year old books that still smell of tobacco, they are in fine condition probably because of the insectsidal qualities of nicotine. They are a bit grubby from use but I find that a lovely bit of their history and, apart from dusting/wiping, haven't cleaned them.
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 8:29 pm   #4
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

Thanks for the replies ,I was looking for something to feed the leather ,Mick.
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 8:39 pm   #5
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

Dubbin is the best.
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 9:42 pm   #6
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

Or if you are a Repair Shop viewer, it has to be saddle soap.

Des
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 10:03 pm   #7
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

I've not seen a copy of Harmsworth in a leather binding - mine is in blue publisher's cloth - but if it is leather and you're likely to have further uses for the stuff I'd recommend Renapur Balsam:

https://renapur.com/product/renapur-...-balsam-200ml/

I'm about half way down a pot I've had for around 30 years, and was using it just this morning to refresh the half-leather bindings of seven volumes dating from 1831.

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Old 18th Jun 2021, 11:11 pm   #8
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

Probably worth making sure it is actually leather. Many years ago I acquired ( for 5) a complete set of the 1910-11 edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittannica. It is a cheap set, I think published on reduced sized-pages in the early 1920's using very thin paper and with imitation leather covers. The boards are made of a cardboard that is now in an advanced process of disintegration. Having learned how to do bookbinding at evening class a few years ago I am in the process of making new covers, but I have restored and re-covered a number of old books for friends.

One was an Edwardian book with a heavily-embossed bookcloth cover that was rather grubby. For that I cleaned the covers by gently scrubbing with a nail brush dipped into a dilute washing-up liquid solution to clean out the grime from the embossing, positioning a sheet of plastic between the cover being cleaned and the endpapers first to prevent the pages from getting wet. It cleaned up well. No experience with genuine leather.

Last edited by emeritus; 18th Jun 2021 at 11:20 pm. Reason: typos
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 11:39 pm   #9
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emeritus View Post
Probably worth making sure it is actually leather.
Yes, around the time of the Harmsworth encyclopedia there were some quite convincing imitations in use - there still are now, though today's would mostly be plastic-based, or the halfway house of "bonded leather" which has ground-up actual leather among its ingredients. Identifying actual leather is made easier with a book that's a little damaged, so there are places where the surface is either abraded or peeling slightly - fraying cloth presents a quite different appearance. Book leathers are various, I've used the Renapur balsam on bindings from the early 1700s to the 1950s, both smooth (typically calfskin) and grained (often goat): just about anything other than suede.
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Old 19th Jun 2021, 7:32 am   #10
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

Having had a closer look ,emeritus is correct they are not leather ,but still need rejuvenating ,I wondered about using leather cream for car seats ,Mick.
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Old 19th Jun 2021, 12:03 pm   #11
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

If it is water tolerant, good old foaming cleaner is magic stuff.
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Old 19th Jun 2021, 12:17 pm   #12
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

I just googled 'restoring book leather', here's your answer:

https://cleaning.lovetoknow.com/clea...causing-damage
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Old 19th Jun 2021, 5:56 pm   #13
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Default Re: Cleaning radio related books.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
But be careful not to drop a volume of Harmsworth in the bath while you're reading it, or the pages will go all crinkly when they dry out...

Paul
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