Book repair and conservation

As like any library, the Archives and Special Collection Center has a number of books in need of repair and conservation. Below are some examples:

This 1787 edition of Notes on the state of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson is currently held together by black book tape and needs to be rebound. The book’s text block (book pages and inner binding) are intact but no longer attached to its front and back covers, the included map of Virginia and neighboring states also has some minor damage. This edition is one of the rare volumes published by Jefferson during his lifetime.

Notes on the State of Virginia, spine with book tape

Notes on the State of Virginia, opened to title page

This rare 1578 volume by Ignazio Danti is one of the first Italian works that centers on astromony and the use of the astrolabe. The highly damaged cover and spin are made from vellum and needs to be conserved or replaced. The book has also survived previous water damage and the staining is visible throughout.

Ignazio Danti cover

Ignazio Danti title page

Another prevalent issue in rare book collections is ‘red rot,’ which is the degradation process of leather. If stored in the improper conditions the leather can degrade and weaken, producing a powder-like residue which transfers to other books, crumbles onto shelving and generally gets everywhere. The damage is irreversible, but can be somewhat stabilized through conservation. This example is an 1860 edition of the History of the religious Society of Friends by Samuel Janney.

History of the religious Society of Friends by Samuel Janney

If you are interested in helping the University preserve these irreplaceable works, please consider donating to the Friends of the Archive Fund, contact Director Kate Dodds for more information.

From the Rare Book Collection

The Archives holds a number of pre-1800 monographs, one such work is C. Julius Solinus’ Polyhistor: Treasury of memorabilia from all over the world.
This edition (shown below) was published in Basel, Switzerland in 1538.

Front cover and fore edge  of C. Julius Solinus’ Polyhistor: Treasury of memorabilia from all over the world

Solinus was a third century Latin scholar, who compiled a number of earlier ancient texts in his Polyhistor, including works from Pliny the Elder and the cartographer Pomponius Mela. Topics covered include the geography of the ancient world and a chronology of ancient Rome.

A number of newer maps are credited to Sebastian Munster (1489-1552). Shown below is a map of Asia, while obviously lacking in details (including Japan) the map does contain a small portion of North American visible in the upper right, labeled ‘terra incognita.’ This has been called one of the earliest maps to feature the west coast of North America.

Fold-out map from C. Julius Solinus’ Polyhistor: Treasury of memorabilia from all over the world

The same map also includes a number of ships and sea monsters along the bottom edge, in what would be the Indian Ocean.

Sea monster illustration on map

To learn more about map-making and the history of cartography please consult the library collection, including these works:

The marvel of maps : art, cartography and politics in Renaissance Italy

The power of projections : how maps reflect global politics and history