Watch a 106-Year-Old Wizard of Oz Book Get Magically Restored … By Cutting the Book’s Spine, Washing Pages & Recoloring Illustrations

Author, edu­ca­tor and book restora­tion expert Sophia Bogle is in a con­stant race against time. Her mis­sion: to res­cue and restore ill-treat­ed books before their lam­en­ta­ble con­di­tions can con­sign them to the land­fill.

To the untrained eye, many of these vol­umes appear beyond repair, but Bogle has nerves of steel, preter­nat­ur­al patience, sur­gi­cal pre­ci­sion, and over thir­ty years of expe­ri­ence.

In the Wired video above, she uses a 106-year-old first edi­tion of Frank L. Baum’s The Lost Princess of Oz to demon­strate some of the steps of her craft — from cut­ting open an old book’s spine and wash­ing dirty pages to repair­ing tears and recol­or­ing illus­tra­tions.

Pri­or to tak­ing the final step, she scrawls a hid­den mes­sage on the back­ing mate­r­i­al of the spine:

I do love the fact that there’s the sto­ry in the book, there’s the sto­ry of the restora­tion of the book, there’s the sto­ry of who has owned the book and now, I’m just in there just a lit­tle bit more.

This play­ful bit of hard-won license is a far cry from some shady restora­tion prac­tices she men­tions in an inter­view on the Wel­come to Lit­er­ary Ash­land blog, in an attempt to arm the gen­er­al pub­lic with tools for spot­ting poten­tial fraud:

I am not sure that there is any­thing in the world that can­not be twist­ed with evil intent…Swapping out pages with pub­lish­ers infor­ma­tion in order to make the book appear to be a more valu­able edi­tion. Scratch­ing out/removing num­bers or words for the same pur­pose. And last­ly, swap­ping out pages to insert the author’s sig­na­ture. None of those things can be done with­out intent to defraud and it is the intent that mat­ters most. 

Bogle plies her trade using all sorts of spe­cial­ized pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment — two sewing frames, a job backer, a gold fin­ish­ing stove, a nip­ping press, a Kwikprint stamp­ing machine and draw­ers full of stamps and dies — but she also offers free and low-cost vir­tu­al book repair cours­es to those whose binderies have yet to be estab­lished.

One reward for Kick­starter back­ers who helped her pub­lish Book Restora­tion Unveiled: An Essen­tial Guide for Bib­lio­philes was a bind-it-your­self print­able pdf of the book.

Reat­tach­ing a paperback’s cov­er or deodor­iz­ing a musty old book may rep­re­sent the extent of your hands on impulse.

Book lovers who have both the time and the tem­pera­ment for book­bind­ing, as well as Bogle’s pas­sion for pre­serv­ing cul­ture one book at a time, might con­sid­er apply­ing for a Save Your Books schol­ar­ship.

See more of Sophia Bogle’s book restora­tions on her Save Your Books YouTube chan­nel.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

How to Res­cue a Wet, Dam­aged Book: A Handy Visu­al Primer

How Obses­sive Artists Col­orize Old Pho­tographs & Restore the True Col­ors of the Past

The Art of Restor­ing a 400-Year-Old Paint­ing: A Five-Minute Primer

Watch the Painstak­ing and Nerve-Rack­ing Process of Restor­ing a Draw­ing by Michelan­ge­lo

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.