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Gratian's Decretum

bookbinding with brown calf leather before conservation treatment
bookbinding with new and repaired pigskin leather after conservation treatment

Decretum Gratiani cum appart [Barhol. Brixiensis] (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1483). Woodstock Theological Library, BQV 154 1483 INC.

As the "before" image shows, the spine covering and overall sewing structure for this volume was failing, making it difficult to serve the volume to researchers. The covers appeared to be nineteenth-century calf (leather), and when the conservator lifted some of the leather to prepare for re-backing the book spine, she discovered a heavily tooled (that is, decorated by hand) pigskin binding. This type of binding was typical for northern European bindings of the sixteenth century, and it is very likely the first binding on this late fifteenth-century book. Worming had occurred throughout the volume over time, and conservators mended the paper as needed throughout. Since some of the textblock structural sewing was failing, causing some of the leaves to detach, the volume was partially resewn; including creating new sewn endbands of braided linen threads in the colors of the originals. Problematic paper repairs from the past were removed and then newly mended. Also, a new spine covering in alum-tawed pigskin leather, dyed with leather dyes and toned with water colors to be sympathetic to the restored binding, was created to reback the volume. In addition, this volume (beautifully printed in black and red, with rubrications in blue and red) was digitized and is now available to access and read online in DigitalGeorgetown.