Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Halloween Edition

October 30th, 2014

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of the headless horseman on campus, Halloween 1976

The headless horseman tours campus on Halloween, 1976.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/0 1976-1977 Prints:
Student Activities (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Brian Nomura
Public Services Student Assistant

The Headless Horseman Rides Again

February 27th, 2014

Recently, this book came into the conservation lab with a detaching spine and separated boards. It is volume 2 of a version of The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale in Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. The gold-stamped cover caught my eye. It features this curious gentleman, minus head, but with boots and spurs.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.      The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: The Headless Horseman, before treatment. Right: A detail of the cover.
Call number C3400, Special Collections. Click images to enlarge.

To bring the book back to a usable condition, first I removed the previous paper spine lining with a softener called methylcellulose.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Application of methylcellulose to the spine lining to soften it. Click image to enlarge.

A layer of thick Japanese paper, applied with paste, served as a method for consolidating the spine and reattaching the boards, all at once. The Japanese paper extended onto the boards, under the lifted cloth.

Next I applied a lining that included a tube of paper (called a “hollow”), used to keep the fragile original spine pieces from bending inward when the book is opened. Finally, I dyed some red Moriki Japanese paper to match the cover cloth, and applied that over the tube and under the lifted cloth.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.   The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: Applying the hollow over the Japanese paper lining. Right: Applying dyed paper over the hollow.
Call number C3400, Special Collections. Click images to enlarge.

The final step was to reattach the loose spine pieces. The spine is still fragile, so I added a polyester dustjacket as a final precaution.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

The finished conservation treatment (before the dustjacket).
Call number C3400, Special Collections

The Headless Horseman is ready to ride again!

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services