Conservation of a Dominican Miscellany, c. 1280-1340. Manuscript book on vellum.

This was a project to conserve a medieval manuscript in a period binding without actually repairing it. The client planned to use the manuscript as an exemplar in university-level courses in the history of the book. The volume was conserved without re-adhering the original spine, to avoid obscuring the original sewing, lacing and endbands.

The result is a binding with the original spine hinged back on in a way that allows a reader to lift the spine and examine the historic sewing and lacing.



Wooden board binding likely contemporary with the manuscript. There are clasps missing and losses of leather, especially on the spine at the head. Leather is worn and degraded, with a paper repair still extant on the spine edges of the boards.

The spine is loose except for the lower panels. There is a paper title label on the spine which may be part of the repair still extant on the boards. There are losses of the spine at the head.

There are primary headbands with secondary headbands which are almost worn away.

The sewing on split alum tawed thongs is stable overall but for the first and last sections.

The parchment leaves have swelled towards the head, because the boards are only attached at the tail, resulting in the spine being much wider at the head than at the tail.


Conservation Treatment:

The spine was removed from the binding. Some residue of the spine leather on the sewing supports was left in place.

The spine was lined between the sewing supports and endbands with heavyweight kozo paper using gelatin. These linings extend onto the spine edges of the boards.

The first and last sections were sewn back on the textblock with 35/3 linen thread (lightly waxed) using a link stitch. Very white thread was used in order to make it clear to readers that this sewing is not original to the binding.

The new extended linings were covered with layers of brown kozo paper to match the dark tone of the exposed wooden boards. They were adhered using dry wheat starch paste.

The leather and repair paper were lifted on the upper board adjacent to the original spine and the repair paper on the spine was inserted under the lifted material.

Conserved in 2020.








Limited Editions

Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-304-2652 james@reid-cunningham.com