To trim or not to trim. Is that the question?
A book conservator deals with main ethical considerations. Sometimes because of the customer desire's, and most of the time seeking an equilibrium between preservation and functionality. To top it up, we expect the result to be pleasant as well: not too new, not too worn; most original, but not too weak...
Rare is the case when we find a salomonic solution that satisfies all the requirements.
I guess a conservator is not the type who cuts the gordian knot, but rather one who tries to unlock it no matter how painful that is!
The headband to a book is like the tie to a suit: they both give their owner the chance to stand out. It is like the icing on the cake of the binding, and gathers the bookbinder's proficiency and taste. We'll discuss their aspect like in a Vanity Fair, and go beyond: What are they meant for? and why stuck-on headbands are less cared by conservators than sewn ones? Should we replace them or conserve them?
The untrained eyes will look at them with more interest now, because -just like ties- there are headbands for all tastes!
Cambras, one of the most popular bookbinders from Barcelona, always welcomes me with a wide smile and a sarcastic look. Smiles turn to laughter when we get down to our issues:
-But... you are not pasting the spine of my book with PVA glue, are you?!
I ask him while my eye seeks for his secret library...
Terrorists do not always carry explosives or mallets, nor they come from overseas, it may even be people in charge of collections. We ought to deal with them to safeguard "smart books": books intelligently made, such that no material interfere with each other, on the contrary, they create formidable synergies. Each one has its peculiarities, its beauty and its function. They represent a compendium of technology, art, society and culture at the time and place in which they were created.
I don’t like much having war books, but I must admit that this one is particularly beautiful. The velvet binding seemed to me a challenging issue on the restoration, which did not have major complications besides this.
I show the restoration of this book because of the headaches it has given me when solving the lost areas, the wooden work. The considerable losses on a laborious woodcarving work, and the lack of originals of many of the missing pieces fairly complicated the subject (the shields on the corners were different).
The book from the notary of Esparraguera (1827) was severely damages by mould. To the extent to suffer remarkable losses on both folios and covers. The remaining folios were so weak that discouraged even a most careful handling.