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Conservation of the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493


The Nuremberg Chronicle, written by Hartmann Schedel and published by Anton Koberger not long after Gutenberg published his Bible, is one of the most important works ever published. It is a history of the world as it was known in 1493 beginning with creation. It is lavishly illustrated with woodcuts, many of which were repeated for different individuals (popes, saints, ...) and views of towns which were known at the time. Because the persons involved had never traveled far from Nuremberg, these all have strong Franconian (Central Germany) characteristics. The Chronicle was also the one of the first books printed in the "vulgar." ie. German as well as Latin. The Library's copy is printed in Latin.

Our copy of the Chronicle had been previously rebound at least once prior to its being rebacked. The margins were trimmed, the textblock oversewn (folds mostly still intact), sewn on raised cords, and rebacked in calf with false raised cords with gold stamped title. An interesting feature was that the boards themselves did not match in the placement of the "channels" for the cords and that there were 2 distinct page sizes in the book. Pages which were missing were replaced with those from other copies or blanks were inserted. There was also a great deal of water damage along the lower margins.


After being carefully and completely collated and photo documented, the text was disbound. Initial capitals in the index were rubricated in red and blue (runs eagerly in H2O). These had to be consolidated to prevent their running. Klucel-G a consolident disolved in ethanol was used. The text was then washed and deacidified with magnesium bicarbonate, and resized with gelatin to strengthen the paper. Folds, losses and weakened areas were repaired with Japanese paper and wheatpaste. New endsheets of Griffen Mill paper were then made.

The book was then resewn on 5 double raised cords using a technique called packing. The spine was then lined with Japanese paper and cotton muslin. A wound primary endband sewn to provide a foundation for the braided/plaited leather endband which would be added after covering.

The original leather sides had been lifted from wooden boards. This allowed for the repair of the cracks in theboards. The boards were then reattached to the textblock by pasting the cords onto them. Ideally the cords should have been laced through the channels, but since these did not match on the boards or in the holes created when the book was originally sewn the descision was made to use the original sewing holes. The book was then rebacked and sides edged in goatskin. The leather had been dyed to match original before covering. After the original sides were put down, the leather was touched up to more closely blend in with the original. A contemporary plaited leather endband was then "sewn" around the primary endband and through the covering leather. Finally the inner cloth joint and flyleaf were put down.

Finally a double-walled dropspine box was made to house and protect the binding. The box was covered in buckram for durability and a laser printed spine label was attached.

Conservator: Peter Verheyen, assisted by Alexandra Penuela, '98.
Treatment completed in 1996.

 link to Bonefolder Extras & link to Bonefolder


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