This article is on the creation of a facsimile page to replace a missing page in a book.
Over the passage of time, it’s not unusual for the odd page or two to become detached in a book. As long as the detached page(s) is still present, it is relatively straightforward to re-insert it into the text block.
Sometimes however, a detached page has become lost. Occasionally, pages were left out of the volume when it was bound in the first place. For many years, a solution of sorts has been available. Some reference libraries offer a photocopying service in relation to their rare book collections. This makes it is possible to order a photocopy of a missing page. The photocopy can then be inserted into the volume where the missing page should have been. This technique works fine from the point of view of replacing a missing page. However, finding a photocopy on bright white paper inserted into an antiquarian book can be jarring to say the least!
Digital scans aid the production of facsimile pages
With the advent of digital scanning, a high quality digital scan of a missing page can be obtained. This can be printed onto a sympathetic modern antique-style paper. Alternatively, it can be printed onto contemporary paper of similar style to that used in the original book. Therefore, it is now possible to create a facsimile page to a standard that sits well in an antiquarian book.
A book with missing pages
Recently, I was asked if I could create sympathetic facsimiles of 4 missing pages from a particularly rare book. These would then be inserted into the otherwise complete volume. The book didn’t require any other restoration work but appeared to have never had these missing pages bound in. Firstly, I confirmed that I could locate a complete copy in a library that offered the scanning service. I then checked my collection of blank sheets of antiquarian paper to confirm that I possessed paper of similar stock. Having done that, I ordered the scans. I’ve been asked to create a similar facsimile once before to replace a missing title page. However, this is the first time I’ve tried to create facsimiles of 4 consecutive pages which of course, need to be printed back to back!
Producing a facsimile page
Once I received the scans, I realised that each had also reproduced any marks visible on the original pages. Fortunately, I’m quite experienced with using ‘photoshop’ on my computer. Using that software, I painstakingly corrected every flaw page by page. These would otherwise be reproduced on my facsimile printouts. Having done that, I then ‘knocked out’ the original background paper colour to leave solely, the text area of each page.
Problems with consecutive facsimile pages
Were I only recreating a single page such as a title page, I could have then proceeded to printing the page onto contemporary paper. But with 4 consecutive pages, I still had to work out a way of lining up the 4 blocks of text with each other. This had to be done in such a way that they’d print either side of one sheet of paper with a near-perfect registration. In turnm these would need to match the registration of the adjacent pages in the book. After MUCH trial and error and numerous test prints, I finally had an image for all 4 pages that appeared to print correctly.
I was sure when I took the job on, that I had a number of leaves of contemporary paper that matched the original paper stock of the book. However, on closer inspection I realised that I actually only had ONE sheet that was both large enough and a really good match. So I had only one shot to get it right! After numerous more test prints to be absolutely sure, I printed the file onto the one sheet of matching contemporary paper. Thankfully, the print worked first time.
The finished facsimile pages
After that, it was simply a case of inserting the 4 page folded leaf into the book and trimming it down to size. The new pages were discernible as being slightly different to the original pages. This is only correct as the replacements are intended to be facsimiles NOT forgeries. However, the recreated pages sat comfortably with the originals and were nowhere near as jarring as photocopies would have been. This is what the facsimiles looked like once they were inserted into the book and trimmed to size.
After a long and fairly sharp learning curve to perfect this technique, the results were well worth the effort. I am now pleased to offer this as an additional service to customers alongside my restoration services.
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