Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book of Hours

Book of Hours
Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis ad usum Parisiensem

This lovely little Book of Hours manuscript came to the lab for repair due to a badly damaged cover.

The cover is probably from a late 19th century rebinding. My guess is that the catch plate could have been from the original binding. The current cover seemed to be covered with leather that has been re-purposed, given the odd embossing and color decoration on the surface. The text block was in good condition and did not need to be re-sewn.

It did have poor flexibility:

Here is the opening before treatment:

And after treatment it opens wide enough to see the entire page:

I used laponite to clean the spine as it affords a “dry clean” so the worry of moisture penetrating into the parchment was avoided. The spine was wiped well with a damp cloth to remove any residue from the laponite and lined with a medium weight Japanese paper. This reinstated a decent amount of open-ability back into the text block.

The spine was lined with extended Japanese tissue and the red endbands were reattached.

There was serious deliberation on how to proceed after the spine was cleaned and relined. The ideas varied as I discussed different treatment options with fellow conservators and the curator. One thought was to rebind it in a contemporary historical binding of vellum and keep the leather covers separate but stored with the book. But since the leather covers were still in good condition I finally decided to keep it in the covers I received it in.

In order to help reattach the text to cover I put a light-weight paper hollow tube on the spine:

Once the text block was prepared I addressed the needs of the boards and missing clasp. Even though the boards were in good shape they were a bit soft so I soaked off the paste downs and lined the boards with a piece of 10 point Bristol.

Collaborating with a colleague who worked in the Claflin Jewelry Studio on campus I drew an outline of the needed clasp and she was able to produce a perfect fit!

This was then attached to a new strap made of a leather\vellum laminate.

Using the old tacks and holes I mounted the new strap and clasp to the back board:

I then created a new spine for the cover and cased in the text block. The old spine was remounted and a little touch up with acrylic paint and methylcellulose pulled it altogether.

Written by Deborah Howe