Z3.5.21 is a 16th-century commonplace book. Commonplace books are effectively notebooks in which past owners copied extracts from other works and Z3.5.21 is no exception including several poems and political works.
Like many of our manuscripts, it needed conservation. Its limp vellum cover was detached from the text block, the spine was fragmented and the joints were split. As well as this many of the pages were surface soiled and torn and very much at risk from future tears.
How do you conserve a book like this? The conservator started by removing the sewing from the text block. She then dry cleaned each individual page and, after checking that the inks were stable, washed, deacidified and resized them. Resizing is necessary to return strength to the paper fibers.
They are now drying in our conservation lab.
Once they’ve dried our conservator will start the paper repairs. After this she’ll sew the text block using linen cords and linen thread. And lastly she’ll repair the cover using linen or vellum and attach it to the text block by lacing in the sewing supports.