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Boodles betting book, 1783-1857

​Boodle's betting book

​Conservation in action: Boodle's Club betting book, 1783-1857

Tim Warrender

Boodle’s is a private members’ club founded in 1762. The betting book (LMA/4572/D/07/001) is treasured by the club and has been much used. It lists bets made between members, including many made by Beau Brummel, and lists subscribers to lotteries for 'The Oaks' and 'Derby' horse races.


The betting book is a handsome volume bound in a full brown leather binding. The leather is blind tooled, with some gold tooling around the edges, the title of the book is gold tooled on the front board and golden fillets are present along the edges of the boards. The endpapers are marbled. The book is sewn on three parchment tapes. The end bands are handmade using two coloured silk threads. The text block is manuscript; the ink used is iron gall ink. The text block is made of laid handmade paper with gilded edges. 

Condition before treatment

The book was notable for evidence of previous treatment, testament to its treasured status, but also to the amount it had been handled in the past. It was found to have been rebacked, so the leather on the spine is slightly browner (less red) than the rest of the cover; the spine had also been relined. The front joint was broken and the leather abraded along the edges; the corners had also received previous treatment. The front endpaper had a large tear in the middle as a result of the previous rebinding. The end bands were still intact. Ingrained dirt was present along the margins of the pages. The sewing was broken for the first four sections, which equates to virtually all of the writing in the book. Some tears were present along the spine fold and on the edges of the papers, and a couple of the folios had torn completely along the fold. Fortunately, the inks were stable and in good condition.

Boodles betting book, new sewing during treatment

​New sewing during treatment


The conservation treatment took 17 hours. Firstly, the text block was dry cleaned with latex sponge. Then the old spine lining was removed. At this point it was discovered how much work had previously taken place on the book. The pages were repaired with RK10 Japanese paper and wheat starch paste, infilled with Hosokawa. The first four sections of the book had to be re-sewn. The headbands were found to be detached at the front of the book, so these were re-attached. The spine was re-lined with aerolinen, including a flange to insert under the front paste down and Archival Kraft (sanded down to reduce the swell of sewing knots).

The work was funded by Boodle’s Club.

Further information

More information about the history of the club, and details of the archives may be found on our Boodle's Club page. Access to the archives is with written permission only.

10 April 2014
Last Modified:
05 September 2018