Conservation of Incunabula – Update

It my very good fortune in the role of conservator within the University of Glasgow Special Collections to be involved in the conservation treatment of over 66 early printed books .  We are preparing for our forthcoming exhibition Ingenious Impressions in February 2015 and working steadily to improve the current condition of those books which will be on display.

This wonderful exhibition seeks to showcase just some of the diverse and wonderful texts which we hold.  In fact, The University of Glasgow Library holds over 1000 15th century printed books – the largest collection in Scotland, and the largest holdings in the UK outside of London, Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester.

In May, after an initial book condition survey to detail and assess their individual preservation needs, the books were prioritised taking into consideration the amount of intervention needed to ensure they could be safely handled and exhibited, with an estimate given of the time and materials that would be involved in the conservation process.  From here a plan was drawn up which prioritised those requiring more complex interventions such as board reattachment, re-backing, rebinding, repairing broken textblocks, to tear repairs and the more basic cleaning and repacking/housing upgrades needed for each book.

Interventive work has begun on the task of conserving the incunabula and as you can imagine there is a lot involved in the preparation of such important books for exhibition.

It is hoped that the exhibition will increase access and interest in these early texts and demonstrate the importance and the tremendous effort which continues to go into enhancing the catalogue in this monumental piece of work undertaken by the Special Collections team.

Future blogs will show more in-depth treatment of these early printed books.  Below are some images of a recent treatment on The Chronicles of England.  See also book of the month

Bv.2.17 before treatment

Bv.2.17 before treatment


Bv.2.17 after treatment

Bv.2.17 after treatment

Bv.2.17 after treatment

Bv.2.17 after treatment

Categories: Special Collections

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1 reply


  1. Exploring Special Collections | University of Glasgow Library

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