The Clarkson Book Support System
The Clarkson Book Support System is manufactured from a specially selected foam and is designed to support all types of publications from rare manuscripts to very old printed books. The design allows the book cradle to be adjusted to provide the optimum support to the publication no matter what the type of spine.
It was perhaps as a response to the previous decades of manifest deterioration of rare printed books and manuscripts that a revolution in attitude toward their preservation was required. Since the Clarkson Book Supports introduction in 1987, it has become natural to insist on the careful handling of books and manuscripts when used.
Where rare and irreplaceable books are being used, the use of a book support is considered crucial and must be sympathetically designed. Many book rests and lecterns do not allow for the changing spine shape as the book is opened and the pages turned whilst being read. In fact, they are often harmful because of their unforgiving nature and steep angle which places the book’s structure under strain. A further consideration is the need to provide a non-harmful method of keeping the book open. The reader should not be holding the book open with one hand while trying to write notes with the other, but should have both hands free. This is particularly important with parchment manuscripts which are easily marked by the natural oil from hands.
The foam material was especially selected for its particular pliability and sensitive surface which allows a book’s uneven board surfaces, even with bosses and side pins, to be equally supported over the entire exterior surface. The particular density of foam used ensures that books do not slip (even slight movement can damage a fragile cover), and the grey colour was found to be preferable in a library environment. Users appreciate the gentle and sympathetic nature of these book supports.
Handling of Rare and Valuable Books with the Clarkson Book Support System
A Christopher Clarkson Book Support System comprises 6 foam pieces -
1 x 20 degree base wedge
2 x side wedges
2 x rectangular pads
1 x spine support
Optional weighted snakes (lengths of weighted fabric) are available for holding the pages down.
The book supports are built up from lightweight units of polyfoam, and the concept of related units has dictated the choice of standardised angles and dimensions.
The ‘angle of tilt’ - the structure of an open book resting on wedges at a comfortable angle of opening is not under strain. In an ideal world it would be kept horizontal, but this makes it uncomfortable for the reader who then has to lean uneasily over the book. The old fashioned lecterns counteracted this problem by increasing the angle of tilt toward the reader, but as it was usually at too sharp an angle, far too great a strain was being placed on aged binding structures. And this was all the worse as there wasn’t the overall support of the 3D outline of the book.
With the Clarkson Book Support system, the pair of wedges can be placed on top of the stepped wedge which displays the book at a 20° angle from the table surface. This angle has been chosen as a compromise between the angle of the tilt possible with a lightweight volume in good condition, and the angle needed for a heavy book or one with a binding structure in fragile condition.
The ‘angle of opening’ - the pair of smaller wedges placed the width of the book’s spine apart offers the book support at joints which minimises damage. When the book is read or consulted at either end, the rectangular pads are added on top of the appropriate wedge to give additional support for the opened board. With an exceptionally thick book, as many as three pads might be required to support the board at either end though none would be needed when the same book is open in the middle.
The ‘spine support’ - a gap is left between the two wedges, corresponding to the thickness of the book. This allows space for inflexible 19th century spines or the spine-covering of hollow-back books to expand into, keeping a convex curvature. When tight-back bindings are used, the spine support strip can be placed in the gap between wedges, to support the spine and to help relax the leaves. It’s important to remember that the spine support strip is only necessary for this type of binding and not for hollows, such as the Victorian decorative case-bindings.
The ‘snakes’ - a pair of snakes at the requisite size will gently hold the leaves open, leaving both hands of the reader free of the page surface.
The Book Support System comes in three sizes, small, medium and large
Large Base wedge measures 760 x 470mm (approximate width of opened book across both sides)
Medium Base wedge measures 500 x 349mm
Small Base wedge measures 370 x 225mm
Weighted fabric snakes come in pairs and are available in two sizes
For prices and delivery details, or for any further information you may require, please call Polyformes on 01525 852444 and ask for Book Support Sales who would be pleased to assist, or email us if you prefer