Curator’s Corner

“Book Donations, Mold, Foxing, Red Rot, and The Cost of Book Restoration”

By Robert L. Angus, Octavia Book Bindery, Calgary, AB. – June 2017

It’s been a family treasure for decades, passed down from your grandparents to you, and finally, it seems like no one else will appreciate this heirloom as much as your local museum or library. What better way to preserve your families legacy than to give it to those who would remember you, maybe they’ll put a sticker in the front that says, “Kindly donated by the ________ family”.

What doesn’t get taken into consideration, more often than not, is that the books are often in various states of disrepair. As a book binder, I see all sorts of antique books in sad states of condition. Perhaps they have been chewed on by bugs, mice, or the family dog. Perhaps they have been stored in a damp basement or have suffered a flood and have mold or mildew stains. Perhaps the leather has begun to disintegrate and turn into a fine dust – a problem called “Red Rot”, and “Foxing” on the paper, often caused by a fungi colony which turns spots on the paper a rusty red.

Yeasts, Molds, and Mildews are everywhere as a natural part of any environment, but when it comes to books, they are the enemy. Books brought to our book bindery with mold damage require careful handling — gloves, respiration masks, chemical baths — and there is no guarantee that we have completely neutralized the spores once we have tackled the issues one page at a time.

These kinds of repairs can be incredibly expensive, taking up to an hour each page (or more if there are paper tears which need to be mended), at a cost of between $85-100/hour, you can imagine that these repairs can take months, or even years to manage, at an extraordinary cost. In most cases, simply not worth the price for a book which may only be worth a few dollars.

Most museums do not have much of an operating budget, and expecting them to store such damaged books which may require hundreds of dollars in repairs, is unreasonable. Should any book require repairs or restoration, we at Octavia Book Bindery would certainly be pleased to ensure that your books are in their best presentable condition before they are to be donated. Most antique books can be shipped to us carefully wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap. Feel free to call us to arrange an appointment at (587) 700 – 6575, or by email at OctaviaPress@Hotmail.Com.


Coastal Museum of Denmark – April 2017

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated in our endeavours to help out the “Coastal Museum of Denmark” and to gather additional stories/family history for the “Danish Canadian Museum”. The Coastal Museum of Denmark is currently working on a research project trying to gather stories and information about Danes and Danish immigrants to Canada who participated in World War 2 and especially in the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Around 6300 Danish sailors helped the allied cause as well as thousands of Danes who emigrated to fight for other allied countries, such as Canada. Any sort of information anyone might have regarding stories or specific information about the above mentioned would be most welcome. Please send any information to:



Curator – Faye Kjearsgaard
1-403-728-0019 Direct
1-888-443-4114 Toll Free