Still more conservation for digitization at the Bodleian

As the project enters the final stretch it is time to revisit the work of the Bodleian’s Conservation and Collection Care team (see our earlier posts on this here and here). The conservators have been working closely with their curatorial and imaging services colleagues to assess the handling characteristics of the proposed Hebrew collections, and then selecting the appropriate imaging equipment for each manuscript. More than 70 manuscripts have minor damage that would prevent their safe digitization and these were listed for conservation. The team has treated 43 manuscripts so far, and some of the treated manuscripts have now been digitized and are available online. The treatments have ranged from binding repairs, where damaged spines have been secured and boards reattached, to repairs of the leaves. Many of the Hebrew manuscripts are written on burnished Middle-Eastern paper which can become soft and weak, and we have carefully repaired a number of manuscripts where breaks to the leaves had made them vulnerable. The repairs have been carried out with small bridges of Japanese paper stuck with starch paste, carefully placed so that none of the text is obscured. These repairs can be seen in MS. Pococke 236 and MS. Pococke 209, shown here:

 

MS. Pococke 236 fol. 19r
MS. Pococke 236, fol. 19r

 

MS. Pococke 209 fol. 2r
MS. Pococke 209, fol. 2r

 

This project has also been a useful training exercise for a number of students on work placements at the Bodleian from the conservation courses at West Dean College and Camberwell College of Arts. Students have helped with the manuscript assessments and undertaken some of the repairs, providing valuable experience at the start of their conservation careers.