A Solander box or clamshell case, is a book-form case used for storing manuscripts, maps, prints, documents, old and precious books, etc. It is commonly used in archives, print rooms and libraries. The case is usually constructed of hardcover or wood, and has a hinged lid connected to its base. Both lid and bottom sections of the box have three fixed side sections or "lips"; the lid is slightly larger so that the side pieces "nest" when the case is closed. The fourth "spine" side has flexible joints where it joins the main top and bottom pieces and so goes flat onto the surface where the box is opened.

The front-edge of the case often contains a clasp for closure. The exterior is covered with heavy paper, fabric or leather, and its interior may be lined with padded paper or felt, especially if made for a book. All materials should be acid-free for conservation. It may not be made for a specific object, and various standard sizes are bound. Ones for very old books will typically be custom made to an exact size. The boxes are stored flat, and are strong enough to be kept in small stacks. A simplified and undecorated form of Solander box termed a "phase box" is used for temporary storage of books during conservation work. These are constructed from plain mounting board. Although undecorated, the materials should still be of archival grade.


Solander Boxes custom bound, yes you can have a standard Solander Box, the pictures you see are the custom ones that I have bound, the large one that looks like a large brief case is the size of a coffee table, bound using box board and thin marine ply, bound in Oxford Library Buckram and lined in Silk Rayon Velvet and used to hold maps etc. The other one that looks like an old book (above) is a replica I bound, the one I replicated it from was bound in the 1870's and was one found at the local Mechanics Institute in Ballarat.


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Milton Watkins, Bookbinder


Formally known as Ballarat Bookbinding & Specialist Printing Est.1998