Book conservation in lockdown

What do Conservators do when separated from the archives and rare books they normally work on? One answer is that they make their own! Tony King, our Senior Manager Collections Care and Conservation, describes the process of creating a historic bookbinding.

The history of Western bookbinding stretches back to antiquity and has involved significant changes in the way books are bound, sometimes leading to obvious external differences but often not. Books are complex 3-dimensional objects and working out how a book was put together several hundred years ago requires a fair bit of detective work. Very few descriptions of life in the bindery have survived so the only way to really understand the processes involved is to make a new book using what we believe to be the techniques, tools and materials of the period.

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#Colourourcollections (3): Sunderland High Street

Sunderland_Colouring resized

For those of you who are familiar with Sunderland, here is an image of the High Street in earlier times for you to colour in. The image is part of our Pictures in Print digital collection of printed local maps and topographical illustrations. This particular illustration comes from an extra-illustrated copy of William Fordyce’s The history and antiquities of the county palatine of Durham (1857), which is held at Sunderland City Library.

The domed building on the right-hand side is Hutchinson’s Buildings, opposite Havelock House where in 1898 the “Great Fire of Sunderland” started. Can you identify any other buildings?

Download the image above as a JPG or as a PDF. Do share your creations with us via Twitter (@dulib or @PalaceGreenLib).

Whose book is it? Books owned by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre

The following post, by our rare books cataloguer Dr Aya Van Renterghem, first appeared in a longer form on the Early Modern Female Book Ownership blog in May 2020. We are grateful to the blog’s moderators for allowing us to share the content.

When considering the many shapes and forms in which early modern female book ownership appears, thoughts and discussions usually turn to the various types of books owned by different women or focus on the difference in ownership between social classes of women, for instance. It is, however, possible to broaden this view and also think about gradations of ownership and about the level of agency female book owners had. I mean by this that we could think about questions such as how much control early modern women had over their choice of books or over the type of books they owned. The Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre collection, currently being catalogued at Palace Green Library, Durham University, presents an interesting case study in this regard and is worth exploring here. Continue reading “Whose book is it? Books owned by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre”

#Colourourcollections (1)

Fancy a bit of colouring in? Get your crayons, paintbrushes, or favourite digital colouring app out and join us in making Durham Cathedral’s famous sanctuary door knocker more colourful!

You can click and save the image below to print off, download the PDF version or create a digital copy. 

We’d love to see the results, so do share your colourful creations with us via Twitter (@dulib and @PalaceGreenLib), using the hashtag #colourourcollections. But most importantly, have fun!

If you’d like to see more old drawings of the Durham area, have a look at our Pictures in Print pages: http://valentine.dur.ac.uk/pip/index.html.

Find out more about the Sanctuary Knocker on the Durham World Heritage Site website: https://www.durhamworldheritagesite.com/architecture/cathedral/intro/sanctuary-knocker.

Black and white drawing of the Sanctuary Knocker at Durham Cathedral. It has the shape of a lion's head.

Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre library: spotlight on archives and special collections (1)

From medieval manuscripts to an extensive archive of materials relating to the Sudan via the historically important 17th-century Bishop Cosin’s Library, in this series of posts we focus on an archive or book collection held at Palace Green Library. In this first instalment, we travel to 17th-century Liège to take a closer look at the library of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre.

Pamphlet written by the foundress of the English community of Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre as a justification of their existence and an advertisement for other English Catholic women to join the community.
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Learning to judge a book by its cover: HLF bookbindings workshop at Palace Green

I entered David Pearson’s bookbindings workshop at Palace Green in November as a complete novice, as I know next to nothing about rare books and even less about bindings. However, any anxieties I had were allayed as a varied group of attendees assembled: librarians, binders and enthusiasts, many of whom had travelled to Durham from Scotland and all over England.

A late 17th-century binding of black goatskin with gilt “tooling” or decoration. R. Perrinchief, The royal martyr or The life and death of Charles I. London : printed by J. Macock. for R. Royston, bookseller to His most Sacred Majesty, 1676. (DUL SB 1139)

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A book with a history

For the last few years, a team of rare books cataloguers has been working hard to record the volumes held at Ushaw College. The College closed as a Catholic seminary in 2011, but not before building up an impressive collection of rare materials over its nearly 200-year existence. The collection covers a wide range of subjects, from theology to natural history. And many have an interesting story to tell about themselves, such as this rather large volume.

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