Recent Support: Preservation

Sample Preservation Projects Funded by the FSCL Preservation Fund

In 2012 an impressively large box containing the vellum document with the great seal of Elizabeth I returned to the Mortimer Rare Book Room after a long conservation and repair sojourn at Harvard’s Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies. The seal, about five inches in diameter, is attached to a document that is written by hand in Latin and dated March 4, 1602. This is the second version of Elizabeth I's great seal, used during the second half of her reign. The document and seal came to us from the estate of Henry L. Seaver whose wife, Susan, was class of 1901. Seaver began donating books and manuscripts in the 1940s and left a stunning bequest to the Rare Book Room in 1976.

Elizabethan seal on document
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close up of Elizabethan seal
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One of the most famous books printed in the English language is Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies: Published According to the Originall Copies, that is, Shakespeare’s Works. The Mortimer Rare Book Room does not own a copy of the coveted First Folio (the first printing in large format) from 1632, but Smith does have the Second Folio, printed in the same year. In 2010 this volume received much-needed conservation work by Daniel Gehnrich, who reattached the loose leaves at the front of the book and reinforced and cleaned up the leather binding. One of the reattached pages features the famous portrait of Shakespeare engraved by Martin Droeshout.

Before repair
Before
After repair
After
After binding
After Binding

Matthioli’s Herbal (Matthioli commentarii), printed in Venice in 1565, is one of a large collection of botanical volumes at Smith, and it is one of the most beautifully-illustrated of the 16th-century herbals. The 20th-century binding on Smith’s copy literally fell off due to frequent use. After some cleaning and mending of paper tears, bookbinder and conservator Angela Scott rebound the book in full calfskin. Matthioli’s work is shown often to classes in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, which recently acquired an original woodblock used to print one of the images in this very edition.

damaged binding
Damaged Binding
New binding
New Binding
After mending
After Mending