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Rare Book Handling and Storage Guide

Rare Book Handling and Storage Guide
Delving into the world of rare books is like stepping into a realm of hidden wonders and historical treasures. As book enthusiasts, we all yearn to preserve these literary gems and keep their stories alive for generations to come. However, caring for rare books is an art that demands finesse and dedication. 
Rare Book Handling and Storage Guide

Forget about the myths of white gloves and join us as we reveal the engaging truth behind rare book care!

  1. Gloves Off, Hands On!

Contrary to popular belief, there's no need for white gloves when handling rare books. Your clean and dry hands are all that's required. So, no more awkward fumbling with gloves – let your tactile senses indulge in the pages of history!

  1. The Gentle Flip

When opening a leather-bound beauty, be mindful of its vulnerable joint. Avoid laying the book flat and flipping the front cover open. Instead, hold it in one hand and gently open it with the other, supporting the cover's weight with your fingers. A little care goes a long way!

  1. Handling Larger Books with Elegance

Dealing with larger tomes can be intimidating, but fear not! Lower the spine gently onto a book cushion or any forgiving surface. With one hand holding the book upright, gracefully lower one cover until it rests on the surface, then do the same for the other. Voila! Now you can flip the pages with panache.

  1. Organising Rare Books with Style

For larger books, a sideways stack is allowed, but don't go overboard. Avoid putting excessive pressure on the bottom books. Remember, it's all about keeping things balanced and organised – like a well-curated bookshelf gallery!

  1. Wrapping Dust Jackets with Care

Dust jackets need love too! Shield them from the elements with a transparent polyester film or an acetate cover. But don't go overboard with plastic; we're looking out for our books, not trapping moisture!


  1. Finding the Ideal Climate for Your Collection

Finding the right temperature for your books is like striking a harmonious note in a symphony. Keep your shelves away from direct heat and air conditioning units. Aim for cooler conditions, around 16º-19ºC (60º-66ºF), and your books will be singing praises to you.

  1. Shielding Rare Books from Harmful Light

Watch out for that spotlight! Direct sunlight may be a celebrity's best friend, but it's a rare book's worst enemy. Avoid fading spines and increased temperatures by keeping your books away from the spotlight. UV filter films and bookshelves with doors are your backstage passes to protect your beloved collection.

  1. AVOID: Water, Smoke, and Fire!

It's time for a little avoidance game. Stay clear of water sources near your bookshelves – books and water don't mix well. Also, let's not turn our libraries into smokehouses, as books are fantastic scent retainers. And while we're at it, let's keep the fire away from those cherished bindings. Solander cases to the rescue!

The Round Reading Room at the British Museum, from an illustrated plate in 'Free Public Libraries, their organisation, uses and management' by Thomas Greenwood, Simpkin, Marshall & Co.: London, 1886. British Library shelfmark 11902.b.52.

  1. Dust Busting Dance

Dust bunnies are not welcome on your bookshelves. Keep those pages gleaming by regularly dusting your collection with a soft brush. Doors on bookshelves make the dust evasion even more impressive!

With these engaging and original tips for rare book care, you're well on your way to becoming a master of literary preservation. So, go forth, handle your precious books with confidence, and let the stories they hold continue to enchant the world! Happy reading and caring!

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About Us

About Us

Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in London, specialising in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper, with particular expertise in fine illustrated books from the 15th to the 20th century, travel & voyages, natural history, modern firsts, rare children’s books, guidebooks, Hebraica & Judaica, Eastern European, and Islamica

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