If the shoe fits…

I recently bought myself a copy of a 1942 edition of Joseph Conrad’s, ‘A Conrad Argosy’,  a lovely edition complete with woodcuts by Hans Alexander Mueller. As it’s a large and heavy book, in an ideal world it would be stored lying flat on my bookshelf however, unfortunately I just don’t have the space.

My concern is that storing the book upright is not a safe option as the text block would sag over time, pulling at the spine and probably resulting in a text-block split. The answer? I’ve decided to make a customised book shoe, a brilliant way of supporting book text blocks. Shoes allow a volume to be stored upright whilst supporting the text block from below. They are discreet in appearance, (hence the reason why they are often used in old libraries), economical to make and are easily removable.

During my time at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, book shoes were used extensively in the 15th century Duke Humphrey’s library. If you are interested in finding out more about book shoes or feel they could be an asset to your collection, the Bodleian have available a great article which explains the many advantages of book shoeing and a guide to their construction: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:UBklYcVSaB0J:cool.conservation-us.org/iada/ta95_021.pdf+&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjLy1490UsY2Hr24-Qxwe-F19lV5zkLjnIvX340s_baYSnws1XlTy4HXkogOrtoTd-U3EcxuqDfdEQ9qlPEd4_MozP-g_LwWWDfGBIAV-aCvw_gsCmaCf4PamgiSJV-0gxOG9Ql&sig=AHIEtbQ4b1xiTjHq34gU5CQdoRqn-ayHxw

The US-based NEDCC also have the following excellent resource:


Remember, always use only those materials which you know to be acid and lignin free, particularly as they will be in direct contact with the book. I used acid-free mountboard for mine and it’s proved strong enough, (you could always double up the thickness if necessary). Don’t skimp on details such as rounding the corners and sanding the edges as they are really important for protecting the text block.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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