Filed under: Book Conservation
No, it has nothing to do with the last time I said “Grrr.” The sheets for the limited edition of Communion of Dreams are fine. And besides, then I was just annoyed. It’s pretty rare for me to actually get angry.
Even more rare when it has to do with my business.
But I got started this afternoon on some conservation work for a institutional client. I have half a dozen items from them this time, and thought I’d start with the oldest: a 1471 legal text.
For those who aren’t history buffs, let me give you an idea of how rare a printed book this old is: it was printed just 17 years after the Gutenberg Bible, the very first book printed using movable type. Such books are so rare there’s a special name for them: Incunabla.
And some idiot in the last half century did a machine rebinding of this book. Meaning that they just stuck it in a guillotine and lopped off the spine, then had a machine stab through the loose sheets and do a simple basket sewing, along with a layer of hot glue.
I’d really like to get my hands on this asshole…
Er, sorry. Like I said, I’m angry.
There was *no* reason to do such an unspeakable thing to such a book. The paper is in marvelous condition (as is usually the case with books so old) — it’s still strong and supple, without a trace of acid degradation or embrittlement.
So, I cut the thing apart, removed the bulk of the hot glue. After I dress the edge of the paper, I’ll guard the sheets back together into sections, using kozo tissue paper and wheatpaste. Then I’ll be able to resew the book like it was meant to be, then rebind it properly.
Here are some pix:
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