Rare book conservation

This summer three of Hertford’s rare books were sent out for professional conservation by James and Stuart Brockman Ltd, Bookbinders After many hours of painstaking expert repair the books have returned to Hertford and can now be used in research and exhibitions. We are extremely grateful to our donors for funding this conservation work, which cost £2000.

Hortus Sanitatis (1517)

Our 1517 Hortus Sanitatis had split in two, with the front cover and front section of the book entirely separate from the main text. Since its return earlier this month it has already been used in a special display on library provenance. The Latin language herbal, which contains information about plants, animals and minerals, contains unusual English marginalia from the 1580s.

Herbal before repairs
Amethyst in Hortus Sanitatis
Herbal after repairs
Stag in Hortus Sanitatis
Robert Hooke, Micrographia (London, 1665)

Hooke’s Micrographia, which uses microscopy to examine in beautiful detail the world around us, was also in need of conservation. It had a detached front cover which made it susceptible to further damage when handled. Following its restoration, it will be used in our display for Hertford’s donors in December 2015.

Flea in Micrographia
Micrographia after repairs
Micrographia before repairs
Title of Micrographia


Thucydides, Eight Bookes of the Peloponnesian Warre…interpreted… by T. Hobbes (London, 1629)

Another gem in our collection needing repair was our English translation of Thucydides’ Eight Books of the Peloponnesian War. Translated and illustrated by Hertford alumnus Thomas Hobbes, this is the first published direct translation from Greek into English. The leather cover was crumbling and the opening pages torn. This book is one of our most popular items with undergraduate students, particularly those studying theories of politics.

Hobbes' translation before repairs
Title page of Hobbes' translation after repairs
A map drawn by Hobbes
An illustration from Hobbes' translation
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