Monday, September 3, 2012

De L'esprit des Loix, (The Spirit of the Laws), 1758

When I was a teenager, I came to the United States as a part of a school trip, and paid a visit to The National Archives Building while in DC. Although I had only about 15 seconds to get a glance at each founding document of The United States, it was one of the most moving experiences I had had in my youth. All those documents and manuscripts looked so fragile with almost invisible, faded texts in dimly lit displays, and their humble statues contrasted to the idea of the most powerful country in the world. I remember I was thinking of Montesquieu at the display of The Constitution. Well, little I knew that I'd come to handle his master work, The Spirit of the Laws, some twenty years later. This is a three volume set of De L'esprit des Loix (Esprit des Loix) by Charles Louis de Montesquieu, published in Amsterdam in 1758. (Nouvelle Edition.) As all the original cords were still attached to the covers intact, and the original endsheets had to be fully preserved as they were, the conventional re-hinge method couldn't be performed. The alternative re-hinge method used here is normally conducted on medieval bindings wherein the spines are glued to the book, yet they must be preserved. It's partly superficial, so it had to be done with the most care in order to get the maximum integrity and to make the repairs as invisible as possible. The top and bottom of the spine were worn out, so I had to recreate them as well. Original ribbons are ironed and reattached, the hinges of the endsheets were mended and the corners are repaired.

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