Thursday, 14 April 2011

Beautiful Books

Last week we finally finished a major collection care project - the protective housing of over 400 books in our Domestic Design Collection. We were aiming to provide protection for vulnerable books during the upcoming move. We also wanted to make the books more accessible to students, researchers and members of the public in the long term. We devised a collaborative project involving seven enthusiastic and talented students from the Camberwell College of Art FdA Conservation Course, who have been working hard on the project since January this year.

This work has lead to us to think more about books as beautiful 'things' in their own right. We have been focusing on the structural, decorative, and physical qualities of the books in what we used to think of as a subject reference collection, and we have unearthed some unexpected gems during the last few months.

Some of my favourites have included examples of our beautifully illustrated and printed cloth-bound books typical of the turn of the 20th century; and cover illustration styles and techniques which strongly evoke particular eras and trends.

These volumes were produced in the 1930s, 1940s,
and late 1950s.

Then, there has been the occasional volume that has contained some momento of its original owner (frequently a Silver family member), providing a personal link to the history of the Silver Studio and indicating the significance of the book to the original owner - a glimpse into someone's life.