TSLAC Conservation

Canvas Covers

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A great many of our bound Texas government materials have an accompanying canvas cover.  These covers are frequently seen on oversized, hand-inscribed stationer’s bindings, and many have not fared well.

Early 20th century Texas court index, with a typically battered canvas cover.

These covers seem to have had mixed effects on their books over years of use.  While they do provide protection from light, they can also abrade delicate leather surfaces.

The canvas cover's footprint is visible around the edges of the board. Notice the faded leather at the bottom edge, as well as the abraded suede in all areas except the foreedge.

The pervasive nature of these covers seems to suggest that their use was systematic, or perhaps mandated, by certain state institutions.  There’s even evidence that the covers were contemporaneous with the bindings.

Inside the boards, we see that the canvas cover was made with doublures to match the binding's marbled pastedowns.

Addressing these covers appropriately is a challenge within a conservation treatment.  Despite their contemporaneous appearance, it is difficult to justify the time needed to formulate and execute a treatment for the cover when so many similar items need extensive attention to more fundamental issues.  The right conservation approach to these covers is an open issue on which I’d welcome comments.

I’d also love to learn more about the use and construction of these canvas covers.  Do they appear in other state or government archives?  Who made them and when?  Who decided they should be made?  What types of items received them?

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