A Book Conservation / Restoration Project for The Honorable Society of King’s Inns
Our 1215 Magna Carta was restored by Benjamin van de Wetering of The Ox Bindery. He writes about his observations and conservation work on the book below.
Magna Carta 1215 – 2015
This 16th century printed copy of the 1215 Magna Carta has been rebound at least once but likely several times. A 16th century book would normally have been bound on raised cords, in calf with blind embossing. This rebinding appears to be mid–19th century. It is sewn on three recessed cords with a level spine with blue/red comb marbled tipped on endpapers and a block stamped blind embossing on the cover. In the 19th century block stamped book decorations replaced the hand tooling, though in the 15th and 16th century block stamping was quite common too. The 19th century binder added his contemporary approach to a tradition that stems from a late medieval time.One can assume that only books of importance that kept their interest throughout the ages were worthy of rebinding. Needless to say that the Magna Carta is one of them. Rebinding this book was, 150 years ago, as important as conserving it now. To preserve its provenance is to preserve what has been handed down from the past to our present.With a book that lost its spine and its boards detached it meant first of all securing the boards back onto the text–block by restoring the broken – recessed cords – board attachments. Secondly a new spine was added to restore the bindings’ full functionality and protectiveness. Protecting a printed copy of a document of importance for future centuries to come: the 1215 Magna Carta.
Benjamin van de Wetering ACR
The Ox Bindery – Conservation of Books, Paper and Parchment, Fine Binding