This nameless tool (see Fig. 1) was a revelation when trying to sew an endband with three colours, four threads and two cores.
Salmon’s The History of Hertfordshire, a full-leather tightback printed in London in 1728, had no trace of the headband and only half of the tailband (see Figs. 2 and 3). Initially, the structure of the endband was a mystery to me. However, research into endband styles and sewing techniques yielded a description of this type in the very useful Headbands, How to Work Them by Jane Greenfield and Jenny Hille. The authors refer to a ‘French style’ technique that uses three coloured threads – in this case white, green and pink/salmon – plus a fourth structural thread to create the bottom bead. It also uses two cores, with a thinner top one used to create a top bead.
Fig. 4 shows the technique being practised with the Greenfield and Hille book in the background for step-by-step instruction. It was not too difficult on the cardboard; however, positioning the two cores on the book and managing four threads with only two hands was impossible.
This is where Christopher Harvey, Head of Conservation at London’s College of Arms, where the book resides, came to the rescue with this simple tool (see Figs. 1 and 5). It made all the difference. The bottom core is held in place by inserting it into the hole in the wooden tool. This also minimises movement of the top core, leaving both hands a little freer to manage the four threads. The end result is seen in Fig. 6.
Paula Steere has an education background and was Head of Art and Design in a secondary school in London before retraining in conservation. In 2017 she received an MA in book and archival conservation from Camberwell College of Arts and has since worked at the College of Arms, Wellcome Collection, Senate House Library, the London College of Fashion Archive, Victoria and Albert Museum and UCL (University College London) Special Collections. Currently she is collections manager and preventive conservator at the Hershey History Center in Pennsylvania, USA and a grant writer for small museums with big potential and no money.