Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Britannia Depicta, 1736

I love maps and atlases in general. I like looking at them, pondering and dreaming about the world I haven't visited. But old maps and atlases are the most fascinating to me. You can see the parts of the world that didn't exist or weren't discovered yet when the map was manufactured, or no longer exist today. I wish I had a really old antique globe at home!

We often get antiquarian map books here, but I'd say this one is one of my favorites and the most intriguing of all. It's  Britannia Depicta or Ogilby Improv'd, printed & sold by Thos. Bowles. (The Fourth Edition, 1736) This is one of the first pocket maps of Britain, and shows roads and landmarks in compartmentalized beautiful woodcut vertical maps, along with a description of each city. I just finished restoring this volume, and finally got a chance to take a good look inside. What a gem of a book!

The client did not want me to perform anything beyond the front cover rehinging, reconstruction of the top & bottom of the spine, and a simple glue reinforcement on the worn out corners. So, as for the restoration, it wasn't so labor intensive. One unconventional restoration method used for this book is the rehinging. This is a medieval binding wherein the spine is directly glued onto the spine of the book. So the spine couldn't be lifted or the leather would fall apart if attempted. In a case like this, one of the ways to preserve the original spine while reattaching the cover to it, is to rehinge, partially superficially. The new leather is glued underneath the original leather of the cover, but the extending new leather is glued over, not underneath, the spine slightly without covering any of the gold tooling. It has to be perfectly blended to the texture of the surrounding original leather. This type of rehinging has to be done with the most care because it's not as strong as a conventional rehinging. 

I hope the client likes my work. He's a regular client of ours, so I don't want to disappoint him!


  1. I love old maps too! What a beautiful book!

    1. Hello Fotis,

      Yeah, this is indeed a beautiful little map book. I often wonder how our book collector clients get a hold of a book like this.

  2. الخرائط هى اسرع طرق السفر فقط أغلق عيناك وتأمل