The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “tacket” as a nail; in later use, a small nail, a tack: a hob-nail with which the soles of shoes are studded. In the case of book preservation, a tacket is a physical connection between a loose board and the book itself with linen thread. I learned to make a tacket from Jim Hinz, a book conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia, in his leather preservation workshop in 2008.

Close up  of tacketing on joint

This particular book is Shakespeare’s Comedies, histories and tragedies from 1685. The binding i am repairing, however, is likely from the 19th century.

The best candidates for this repair are usually larger sized books with a distinct “shoulder” through which you can punch holes for the tacket.
The shoulder is a ridge on the inside joint of the book where it joins the cover board. When making a tacket, you punch a hole though the shoulder and thread a piece of linen thread through it.

Two holes are then punched diagonally though the cover board. The two ends of the linen thread are then threaded through these holes and a knot is tied.

Tacket-both sides threaded

By creating a shallow trench in the board, the knot and thread are embedded and glued into the cover, which is then not very visible.A piece of thin Japanese Moriki paper is then attached over the break in the joint.


Interior hinge repaired

Finally, another piece of Japanese Moriki paper is attached over the outside break in the joint. Several coats of a leather consolidant make the repair quite presentable as well as usable.

Completed repair