Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Le Cuisinier Parisien, 1842

This is the last one of the series of French cookbooks that I've been posting on my blog lately. This book gave me a bit of a dilemma that kept me from working on it for three freaking days. I was just staring at the book, and kept going back and forth with the dilemma.. ok, here's what it was ... the client sent me a couple of tiny grainy jpegs of a book that she wanted her Le Cuisinier Parisien to be like. It's normally a no brainer, but as I examined the book, it had been re-sewn in radically raised cords, and the placements of those cords didn't match that of the false raised cords used for the book on the jpeg. Bummer.. My dilemma was, whether to break it down and resew it completely, or just use the existing cords for the new binding. Neither was preferable. The original re-sewing was still perfectly in tact with firm glue, so forcing the break-down and re-resewing wouldn't be a good thing for the book in the long run and it would cost her another hundred or so dollars. Yet, if I used the existing cords, (which, by the way, weren't placed precisely, but askance ... total sloppiness!) my binding wouldn't look like what she asked for, and it will look horrible and imperfect, that I would never put my name on. Hummm..

So, the best solution I could come up with, was to carefully hammer down the raised cords without harming the threads or the paper so that the spine became flat enough for me to apply false raised bands that match the jpeg model. Also, to hide a slight gap on the spine, I decided to do a set of French double, which is slightly tilted outwards naturally. Ah, I think my tactic was a success.

As the papier tourniquet marble paper used on the model wasn't available, I used a french shell printed marble that matched the closest. (with the client's approval, of course.) I antiqued the leather and the endpapers as well. The torn papers are mended, and five days of dilemma was over!

This is Le Cuisinier Parisien, ou L’art de la cuisine Française au XIXè siècle - Traité élémentaire et pratique des entrées froides, des socles et de l’entremets de sucre, suivi d’observations utiles aux progrès de ces deux parties de la cuisine moderne, by Antonin Carême, published by J. Renouard. (Third Edition, 1842)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Le Cuisinier Imperial, 1810

I've been sick since I swallowed a super hard chunk of baguette sandwich and scarred my throat a week ago. ( I couldn't chew it without breaking my teeth, so I thought I should just swallow the darn thing, letting the stomach acid take care of the rest. A big mistake!) I couldn't even speak for the next 24 hours, got a minor fever for a couple of days and now I can't stop coughing, for god's sake. Is baguette loaf supposed to be that hard?? I mean, does it have to be like a rock? Tell me, my French friends! Are Americans getting it all wrong!?

Anyway, continuing from the last post on French cookbooks, (The baguette incident just happened to have happened. Mind you.) this is another of the same client's books, Le Cuisinier Imperial, ou L'art De Faire La Cuisine Et La Pâtisserie Pour Toutes Les Fortunes, by A. Viard, published by N. Barba in Paris. (Fifth Edition, 1810) I was asked to preserve everything, and I thought it wasn't a problem at first, until I examined the spine. Sigh,, the spine leather was tightly glued to the spine of the book. Normally, if the spine leather's glued tightly like that, I'd recommend for a brand new facsimile leather spine. But, this book has a set of very unique gold ornaments that I couldn't replicate, and the condition of the leather was such that still had "body", which could possibly sustain the force of lifting. So, I was determined to lift it off. ( but, I told her that I might not be able to do it, before hand, just in case.) Well, although it took about 2.5~3 hours, I successfully took it off the spine!! Yey! I won!!!! (won what?)

(cough. cough. cough. cough.)

The restoration involved was a re-hinging of the spine with the original spine put back on, reconstructions / repairs of the corners and internal cloth hinges to preserve the original marble paper.