Vellum is a most curious material to work with and a very specialised manufacturing process. The few manufacturers still producing this type of skin, still use the ancient skills first used hundreds of years ago. vellum is made from goat, calf or sheep skin and is very hard, smooth, and waxy when new and very difficult to work with. Although it is very thin it doesn't bend very easily.
I was commissioned two 17thC 1st editions of Menessah Ben Israel, a very rare Hebraica, one was bound in 18thC calf and the other in vellum. The question I was asked was "can you make one good copy from two bad ones?" And my answer was....Why not make TWO good ones from two bad ones?....I am only going to concentrate on the vellum one for this page...there's plenty of leather bindings throughout the site.
Both copies were incomplete so matching the paper I reproduced the missing pages from what was already there in both books...for example the illustration was missing from one of the books....can you tell which is the genuine one??
The books were stripped and all necessary restoration carried out and the vellum binding was re-sewn in a 17thC style on vellum tapes with the ends pared thin for lacing in.
The book was covered in a 17thC vellum ( we old bookbinders never throw anything away ) and the vellum ends laced through the binding on both sides.
The vellum is laced all the way through and trimmed off and splayed out and the 17thC end paper is pasted in position. The title is then hand lettered in hebrew in ox gall ink.
The second volume I bound in an 18thC cambridge panelled calf as a contrast....but they do look quite fine together and will probably end up in two different collections......I hope the client mentions that the vellum binding is not an original!!
The Tiffany Collection
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