Norwich Cathedral Foxes book of Martyrs
Conservation of a rare surviving copy of the heavily illustrated 2nd edition of this important work, involving extensive repair of the textblock and finally rebinding into a usable and safe condition.
The first edition of what is known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was published in a single volume in 1563. The second expanded and more heavily illustrated edition was published in 2 volumes in 1570, of which this is an example. As bindings of both volumes are missing, the two have been stacked together as one. The annotation on the first page of volume 2 (Wm.vincent 1764) indicates that at that date the book was in 2 distinct volumes. Also, the original tawed sewing supports still attached to the spine of volume 2 are only the width of that volume and do not extend to volume 1. The page numbering begins at p.983 and ends at p.2270, running through both volumes. The pagination runs from 3f-5y, a total of 108 gatherings mostly of 6 leaves. We can therefore surmise that there are about one thousand pages missing of the original, mostly from the front of volume 1. There are also a further 8 missing leaves within the text block either torn or cut out, sometimes leaving fragments attached.
The volumes were in an extremely poor and fragile condition. The bindings had been long lost and the sewing structure had broken down. Fragments still remained attached to volume 2 of the original twisted tawed leather sewing supports. The sewing would originally have been on 6 of these supports. Due to the damp atmosphere in which the volumes have been kept and subsequent damage due to wear and tear and handling, the damage was severe, particularly to the front and back gatherings. Leaves were grimy and stained, detached, torn, crumpled and weak, particularly gatherings 3f-3k and 5u-5y, with similar damage to gatherings throughout the text block. The text paper was soft and ‘’woolly’’, characteristic of having been subjected to prolonged damp, particularly at the edges, which subsequently received damage from careless handling.
The gatherings were separated , and a record taken of the sewing pattern. The leaves were separated, the gutters brushed out with a dry brush, collecting the accumulated dust and dirt. Leaves were pre-wetted with 50:50 ethanol and water, and then rinsed in warm tap water supported on sheets of Bondina, the leaves too fragile to handle directly. To re-size and give the paper strength, the leaves were immersed in 2% gelatine in warm purified water. Following drying on racks and between blotters, the leaves were interleaved with dry blotters and pressed. Paper repairs to tears, damage, guarding and loss carried out with Japanese paper and tissues using wheat starch paste adhesive. The weakest and fragmented leaves at front and back were also lined on one side with Tengujo tissue 12gsm using SCMC paste 4%w/v. Rebinding. Sewn 2-sections-on to 6 linen cords using original sewing stations, avoiding the previous poor 2-on sewing pattern, using linen thread. New dark brown Griffen Mill handmade paper endpapers, reinforced with linen sewn on. Spine glued up with gelatine glue. Spine lined with Japanese tissue using paste, then with aero linen with joints, slotted at the supports. New endbands sewn with linen thread with back beads and multiple tie-downs. New 4 mm millboards provided with vellum tip corners, the boards laced on. Covered with stained alum-tawed calf spine with linen buckram sides. The linen joints and pastedowns put down. Spine panel lettered straight on using gold leaf. Book shoe provided of 1mm millboard as protection and support for textblock.