Friday, October 10, 2014

The Conservation and Restoration of a Unique Item

Last week we finished the conservation treatment of a very special volume. Méthode Elémentaire de Violoncelle: Suivie de 92 Études: Oeuvre 60 by Friedrich August Kummer and Adolphe Le Dhuy (translater).  It is part of our Cello Music Collection of Janos Scholz, dating back to the second quarter of the XIX century. We are one of two OCLC libraries worldwide to have this particular edition in our collection.

The book arrived with the original cover in a very poor condition. It was bound in a quarter leather and decorative papers, the textblock was still holding the freshness of the first years of life. There were losses on the spine, boards splitting at the fore edge and bottom, the decorative papers were badly damaged with missing parts, as we can see in the photos below. There was no trace of the original label. The leather on the cover was very brittle and already affected by red rot. Like any organic material, leather through the years can lose it is primary component, colagen, the fibers once elastic start to break and those affected areas become very powdery. 

Front cover

Back cover

The cover was in such a bad condition that I thought twice about rebinding the book per original . At the same time, I could still see the beauty behind the damage of this volume. I knew it was going to take more work and time but the simple fact that the book is part of our Cello Music Collection makes it worth the effort.  I persevered on the conservation and restoration, working hard to save the original cover to make it functional for the use of any scholar researching in our library. The following pictures speak for themselves:

Front cover during treatment

Back cover during treatment

For the large missing area on the decorative paper at the back, we used a digital solution. A photo of the pattern was taken and printed on a Japanese Paper Moriki, which was then consolidated with Klucel G to assure permanence of the toner ink. After the restoration of the area, the printed Japanese Paper was placed with starch paste.

Below part of the book corner and the Japanese Paper Moriki with the printed pattern we photographed.


The finished book after conservation treatment.

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