Many people like to collect ladybird books but often, they do not store them correctly or do not handle them carefully. Older books with dust covers and those with matt finishes are easily damaged. The more recent books with a glossy cover are more robust.
Here is a brief guide and a few simple tips to help you look after your books.
Care of Your Books
The Correct Way to Store Your Books
Room temperature is very important, always maintain some heat in the room and never store your books in your attic, garage or cellar. Damp will ruin your books creating warped, bowed covers and wrinkled or wavy pages. There is no cure.
The best place to store your Ladybird books is on a shelf in a glass cabinet as this gives protection from light and dust, but a shelf or bookcase is fine. Try and make sure the area is clean and dust-free. The books should be placed away from direct sunlight or other bright lights. Books are often seen with spines lighter in colour than the rest of the cover due to fading.
Books should be stood upright on the shelves. do not stack them in piles. If possible there should be enough room above the tops of the books to allow them to be easily removed. Air needs to be able to circulate around the books as this discourages foxing (brown spots) and mould such as mildew. Try and leave a gap behind the books. In addition they should not be so tightly packed together that they are hard to remove, neither should they be so slack that they are leaning right over on top of each other.
Handling Your Books
Remember - NEVER push your books along the shelf altogether - this will cause a lot of wear to the bottom of the books.
Old books require special care. Make sure your hands are clean and free from grease. Books should be taken off the shelf gently and should not be pulled by the top of the spine as this will cause tears and the binding will weaken over time.
When turning the pages do it carefully to avoid creasing and do not bend the pages back more than necessary as this can break the spine. Avoid writing in books, as this will decrease their value.
If your old Ladybird books were produced before 1965 they will have dust covers. These covers will require extra care and attention.
Whatever their condition dust covers should be protected in clear plastic sleeves. Plastic sleeves are hardwearing and will protect your books from dust, dirt, moisture, tears and creases. The smallest sizes are usually most suited to ladybird books and they are available from the internet. One of the simplest is a product called "Trimsleve" but there are others. The Arran Alexander Collection are now offering for sale, individual, clear plastic sleeves which are pre-cut to fit a standard sized Ladybird Book dust cover. You can view or purchase them here.
All vintage Ladybird books with dust-covers purchased from The Arran Alexander Collection are all supplied with a free clear plastic sleeve.
Repairing Your Books
Torn Pages and Dust Covers
Old dust covers often have tears and rips and these can be neatly repaired using clear Scotch tape or 'filmoplast'. You must never use sellotape as this will crack and discolour in time. “Filmoplast” is an archival quality, acid-free document repair tape and once applied, is almost invisible. Whilst it is expensive it is worth the extra and can be used on torn pages. Always repair dust covers on the inside for a better finish.
Old sellotape marks can be removed with a special adhesive solvent that removes tape from paper surfaces without to much fuss. It can also help to remove staining from sellotape. Never try to remove sellotape without the use of a proper chemical remover, as it will just rip the paper.
Writing and Scribbling
Light pencil marks can easily be removed by a good quality eraser, however if the pencil was used with pressure there will still be some indentations left on the paper and this can not be removed. Take care to rub out in one direction towards the edge of the page. Hold the page firmly so that it will not move, this will avoid the page creasing. Pencil is a lot harder to remove if it is over a colour illustration or on the matt cover of a book. An eraser will remove some of the colour from the illustration. You will have to make a judgement - would it be better to leave it. Never use an eraser on a matt cover.
Biro, ink, felt tip & wax crayon are almost impossible to remove and it is better not to try. Don't be tempted to tear out whole pages of books - this will devalue the book.
Gloss Book covers (Not Matt) can be wiped clean with a cloth. All gloss Ladybird books supplied from the Arran Alexander Collection have been cleaned using an anti-bacterial cleaner. Ink, oil, grease or glue from sticky labels can be removed using a little white spirit. Take care though that there are no scuffs to the laminate cover as the solvent will soak in and remain. Do not try to remove any bookshop labels. These may have been put on to amend the price and the adhesive will be so strong that it damages the laminate cover if removed.
Labels and glue on matt covered books are a big problem. This guide does not recommend any solution. There is no easy way to remove them. Quite often the label will also remove the top layer of the cover. If in any doubt leave it. Some people will try and if you do the only advice is to do it very slowly, if you see or hear a tear - STOP.
To remove unsavoury smells of any kind, simply place your book in a box filled with scrunched-up newspaper and leave for several days. This usually takes the smell away completely. Do not spray the book with any air freshener.