Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Restoration of a Carthusian Missal

I wished to share with you the fruits of a couple of recent benefactors generosity. One in particular covered the majority of the costs because he particularly believed in this as worthwhile.

(I am fortunate that I have a friend who is a book binder and restorationist by trade and he specifically specializes in these older books, doing much work for university rare book libraries -- and at surprisingly reasonable rates; this project was around $250 USD for instance. He is further a Catholic who loves the tradition of the Church, loves the classical rites and he takes evident care to restore books in a way that are faithful to their period.)

As you will see, in its initial state, the spine had completely deterioriated and was no longer to be found. The leather on the boards was also significantly damaged.

Besides the evident aesthetic matters, there was a danger for the missal in this state. Bindings ultimately serve the purpose of protecting the text-block of a book. When a binding deteriorates like this, what happens is that everytime the book is opened, it deteriorates further. Eventually what can happen is that the text block splits apart, pages fall out and so forth -- let alone the fact that you are also in danger of completely losing the external construction. The greatest danger then is that the book could become incomplete by virtue of lost sections or pages.

What made this missal particularly worthy of such restoration work, in my opinion, is the fact that it is a Carthusian rite altar missal. This of course makes it relatively obscure. Therefore, its restoration not only serves to make it safely useable, without fear of deterioration, as a reference and tool for liturgical study, it also serves as one other means of helping to preserve a part of our Western liturgical inheritance.

Without further ado, the before and after pictures.



The leather on the spine is of course new, but the leather on the boards and the boards themselves remain original, but restored as much as possible.

Thanks to those benefactors, this missal is now safely preserved not only for immediate use, but for other, future generations as well. (Though hopefully by then this rite will again find its place in practice.) For myself, this is rather like seeing a church which has restored its high altar or altar rails. There is a sense of satisfaction in such restorations, whether it be a church or a missal such as this.

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