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Any ideas for effective and non-destructive metods of removing paper and/or foil bookseller labels from the paper end pages and paste-downs of books?

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You can try using a small amount of lighter fluid. It will loosen the gum and leave no mark when the label is removed if it is on the it?

Laura macaluso said:
You can try using a small amount of lighter fluid. It will loosen the gum and leave no mark when the label is removed if it is on the it?
Thanks.  The labels are on the paper paste downs and front flyleaf of the books, not on the cover itself.

It depends on the shape of the book itself and how long the label has been on it and what was actually used to adhere it to the page, but sometimes using a very low heat from a hair dryer will make the adhesive loosen enough for you to gently pull it off the page.

I would not recommend using a solvent if possible. You COULD try dabbing it gently with something like UN-DO as it should not absorb into the paper.

In over 35 years in bookselling, we have tried not to remove older labels like this as in many cases they add to the provenance, even helps proves the book was bought new in a bookstore. For price stickers on dust jackets or inside, we use rubber cement thinner. Works quickly, leaves no residue or stains. Also works to remove Scotch Magic Tape if done patiently and carefully; old scotch tape from the 1950s & earlier dries, hardens and leaves adhesive residue which is impossible to remove.

NOTE on magazine mailing labels: they are not removable without leaving evidence and damage. Consider them part of the issue, not some imposition.Worst victims of such mailing labels are issues of TV Guide, where the label often covers part of the faces of cover featured stars.


Hello Walter!   I use Lindner Adhesive Removal Fluid, which you can obtain from most Coin and Stamp shops, or On-Line at EBay. It is specifically formulated to preserve the gum of postage stamps while being professionally removed from covers. This fluid really works. It removes the sticker or label medium without leaving a trace of adhesive to the underlying paper, the glue remains on the label entirely. It does not work very well with animal by-product rendered glue products made before the early 20th century, for these instances I use the old Water -Q-Tip- Tweezer method.

nail polish remover might work. nail polish remover comes with and without acetone. the kind with acetone is   supposed to unstick crazy-glue from fingers stuck together. the kind without acetone is supposed to be gentler on one's nails. (warning: both substances are highly flammable). you could also try rubber cement thinner. first try these products on surfaces with labels that you care little about before trying it on your valued ephemera.

For over 35 years, we have used ordinary rubber cement thinner [brand name Bestine or equivalent, available at any art supply store, to remove all kinds of adhesive labels used to price books. It also works if very carefully and slowly applied, to modern scotch tape. Also is capable of removing the postmark residue on the face of glossy postcards.


All of the thinners stated do a good job, we use lighter fuel probably as so cheap in the UK.  Another (can be risky method) is a hot iron (not sure what you call it in the US)I use it all the time to lift price stickers and celotape/clear tape, usually works well.  I use all these methods on paper, card, books, and vinyl record covers.  With some stubborn sticky labels I score the surface first with a razor and then apply lighter fuel.

As an aside we also remove writing/words successfully, if on a white background, we again use a razor, we use  those sharp blades from craft knives, carefully removing the layer/s of ink, if patient most of the time looks as if never been there or a dull outline remains.  We only do this if the words are unrelated to the item and or do not any provenance.

Just searched on Ebay as suggested above for Lindner Adhesive Removal Fluid, no joy yet, will search US Ebay, but came across;  EVO-STIK 250ml Adhesive/Glue Cleaner Fluid for Grease,Wax,Glue Removal 87-2334; A fast and effective cleaner for removing the residue of solvent based adhesives.

  • Can be used on wet or dry adhesives
  • Even small areas of old adhesive can be removed
  • Removes grease, wax and similar stains
  • Supplied in a 250ml can
  • Bostik type 97056

looks to me without testing it more for cleaning what is left as residue after lable removal, but will be testing it.

NOTE about Mailing Labels on MAGAZINES: These are notoriously difficult to get off. So after experimenting with various chemicals and methods over the years, we say DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE MAGAZINE LABELS.

Even if you are lucky and they cooperate, the result is a "track" where the strongest part of the adhesive contacts the cover OR a peeling of the surface. Better to leave them on the magazine. Most collectors understand that magazines are sold by subscription and most have a label. Only copies bought at a newsstand will be clean and lacking a mailing label.

NEW YORKER magazines: Labels began in the 1990s. Prior to that, the magazine was sent  folded vertically, inserted into in a paper sleeve with the address. This accounts for the vertical line in many New Yorker covers from the 1940s-1960s.

Most of the solutions should work - fluids made for removing postage stamps are probably best (the heat method will work too, depending on the nature of the adhesive).

HOWEVER: As another bookseller, I agree with the one above that bookseller tickets (and above all, bookbinder tickets) should be left if the book has any value. These are very collectible (though not valuable) so if removal is a must, retain them for a collector. There is a little book made just for collecting them.

I always use a blow dryer to remove all labels, even labels off of glass, metal, books, paper,etc.  Start on one corner and keep the dryer blowing up under the label, as you slowly peel. Continue to blow the hot air up under the label where it is peeling back. They usually peel right off, even old labels.  I have done this for 40 years and never found a better way.  I do this with my son's collectible sports memorablia that he collects and resells. We take the price tags right off of the cardboard effortlessy and effectively. 

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