This article is about the spine restoration and creation of facsimile pages on a 1626 edition on Ovid’s Metamorphosis.
Over December, I’ve been working on a fairly collectable, but slightly bereft copy of Ovid’s Metamorphosis dating from 1626. This copy had been rebound in the early 19th century with a fairly unnatractive spine. The front cover was starting to detach but more importantly it’s title page was missing. The customer asked me to reback the book and to create a facsimile of the title page…..seemingly straightforward.
After a LOT of online research, it turned out that the book was actually lacking 3 pages. It lacked its title page but also another leaf with the dedication on one side and an engraved portrait on the other.
Producing facsimile pages from scans
Having finally obtained the requisite scans of all 3 pages, I set to correcting and cleaning them up on my computer. The job seemed to take forever as the copy of the book that I obtained the scans from was fairly grubby and stained. Finally, after much staring at the computer, I had the digital files ready to print. Despite possessing 100’s of sheets of old laid paper, I only found 3 sheets that closely matched the paper stock that this book was printed on. After many test prints to get the registration correct, I was ready to print onto the precious old paper. Or at least I thought I was! Despite my best efforts, the first print STILL came out wrong. This left me with only two more sheets to print two more pages onto. No more room for error!
The second attempt produced an acceptable version of the dedication/portrait page. When I printed the title page, some of the ink bled through to the verso of the sheet which was a little frustrating. 300 year old paper wasn’t built for laser printer ink! Also, on the final prints, there was a noticeable difference in the shade of black ink compared to that used on the original book. This is something I’ll have to give more consideration to when producing further facsimile pages in future. Sadly, there was nothing to be done this time as there was no more matching contemporary paper. Consequently, I inserted the facsimile pages into the book and proceeded with the reback.
After restoring the spine, I tooled it with a design that complemented the early 19th century style of the binding. The edges and corners of the covers were consolidated and the inside hinges repaired with paper to match the endpapers. Finally, a preservative leather dressing was applied to the leather covered areas of the binding.
Despite the hours of hair-tearing trying to produce the facsimiles, the book turned out looking quite presentable. For the first time in its life, it was (facsimile pages included) actually complete. Here are a few ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the binding including the spine restoration:
And here’s how the text block looked before the addition of the facsimile title page and dedication:
And here’s how it looked with the facsimile pages:
All rights reserved. Copyright Sussex Book Restoration bookbinder bookbinding Brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford