Rebinding of a water-damaged copy of Sebastian Brant, Narrenschiff, Paris, 1498, illustrated with woodcuts by Albrecht Durer.


Received in full calf binding, probably an early 19th century rebinding. It appears that the binding was in stable condition before being damaged by water, with blackening of the leather and visual evidence of mold. The joints are cracked although the boards remain attached. It was printed on laid paper that has darkened considerably, but the leaves are intact overall. There is staining from water damage, and visual evidence of mold especially on the first and last leaves. Many leaves are stuck to one another. The volume is paginated with Roman numerals on the rectos only. The sewing is intact overall. Marbled endsheets. All edges gilt. Front bead headbands. There is a worn silk bookmark.

Conservation treatment

The binding was discarded and the volume disbound. The bookmark was discarded. The leaves were vacuumed under low suction with a HEPA-filter, and the leaves were cleaned with dry cleaning sponges as needed. Most of the leaves that were stuck together were separated mechanically with a microspatula, although some had to be separated during aqueous treatment.

The leaves were washed in a solution of 80% isopropyl alcohol and 20% de-ionized water, then in a series of baths in de-ionized water conditioned to a pH of 8 using calcium hydroxide. The leaves were air-dried on a print drying rack. The water staining was significantly reduced, but some of the dark staining from mold remains on the first few and last few leaves. The leaves were sized with methyl cellulose, then air-dried on a print drying rack.

The new handmade paper endleaves and the text sections were sewn all along on four raised linen cords using 18/3 linen thread. Back bead endbands were sewn on cores of 4-ply linen cord using 18/3 linen thread. Holes and channels in the boards were created before the boards were laced on using the sewing supports and endband cores. The volume was rebound in alum tawed goatskin using wheat starch paste.