Thursday, 15 October 2009

Sarah Letitia Brown's Commonplace Book Revisited

Back in 2008 I wrote about my great grandmother’s commonplace book, which was found among my mother’s effects after her death. As you will recall, the book was in poor condition, with no cover, torn pages, and acidic damage to the edges of the pages. Here’s what it looked like --

The spine was completely gone, as was much of the stitching, and in fact many pages had come away completely. This picture shows how fragile the edges of the pages had become.

I had become very concerned about the condition of this journal. It represented an important part of my life, a primary document of members of my mother’s maternal family which should be preserved for future generations. But how best to do this?

It so happened that some of the books in the Mississauga Library’s local history collection were in need of repair and preservation. The Library had dealt in the past with a well-known rare book binder, Keith Felton of Felton Bookbinding, in Georgetown. As Local History Librarian at the Mississauga Central Library I undertook the task of driving to Georgetown with the books which needed repair. (We had previously contacted Felton’s regarding these books and had sent them photos of their condition so that they could give us a quote on the type of repair needed and the cost involved.) As I was going to Felton’s I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to have some repair work done on a couple of my own books. My paperback copy of Inez Knibb Sibley’s Dictionary of Place Names in Jamaica (no longer in print) had come apart -- so much for so-called permanent binding – and I decided to bring along the commonplace book as well to see what could be done with it.

Keith Felton does amazing work and I can’t praise him too highly. The Sibley book was no trouble to repair, but the commonplace book was much more complex. It needed new covers and spine, plus repair to every page in the book by placing tissue paper along the edges of each page to prevent more damage. We decided on a beautiful leather cover with new endpapers. I’m not that knowledgeable about how this preservation work is done. All I can say is, judge for yourself from the following pictures of the finished work, now titled Brown Family Journal.

The photo above shows the journal with new endpapers.

If you need to have any type of preservation work done on your books then I definitely recommend that you get in touch with Keith Felton of Felton Bookbinding in Georgetown. You will not be disappointed.

Arras Memorial

Arras Memorial

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore
My uncle Victor