Restoration of a sixteen century atlas
Historic atlases are among the most beautiful, and valuable, printed books. The conservation of this volume not only aimed to repair and preserve it, but also to restore it’s aesthetic qualities.
Many historic atlases are very large and heavy, and they are usually prestige items with a history of significant use. This combination often results in high levels of damage and wear, which is exacerbated by the quantities of oversized foldout maps.
Fortunately most atlases were made using the highest quality papers available, and even when badly damaged and degraded these papers usually react well to conservation treatments.
Once this atlas had been disbound, the individual folios were dry surface cleaned to remove loose dirt and particulate. After testing the pigments for solubility, each map was humidified and then washed in warm water, which removed old and unsightly repairs and acidic discolouration, and allowed the sheets to be dried flat in preparation for repair.
Repairs were undertaken using assorted toned papers of a suitable weight and consistency, and then infilled and retouched.