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book spine with letters and decorations in gold

Detail of spine from Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1755), volume 2; Booth Family Center for Special Collections

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Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1755)

upper cover of book with calf leather and gold decorations before conservation treatment
upper cover of book with calf leather and gold decorations after conservation treatment

Samuel Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language (London, 1755). Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Rare Books  Z179 Vault and Z180 Vault.

This copy of Johnson’s Dictionary is from the original library collection, with an important binding by Joseph Milligan. Milligan, a bookseller and publisher, had a shop in Georgetown and may have been the Georgetown College binder, based on the binding decorations of other books in our original library collection. Incidentally, Joseph Milligan was also one of Thomas Jefferson’s bookbinders. To treat this item, conservators washed the initial leaves in volume one to remove old and problematic repairs, mended tears, and infilled any areas of loss. They removed the covers to restore them by repairing the corners and fore edges with Japanese paper and infilling any losses to the leather with toned Japanese paper; and reattached the fly leaves (which help attach the book covers to the book text). The hinges (where the covers connect with the spine) were recreated -- both inside and outside of the volumes -- with Japanese paper. The volumes were digitized prior to conservation and are available to read online in DigitalGeorgetown.