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Enabling Project: The Ledgers (with guest star William Morris)

As part of the Enabling Project we have reached the ledgers section. Our ledgers contain just about any type of western-style binding (sewn, posts, mechanical, etc.)  and binding material (leather, cloth, corduroy) you can imagine. They can be very small, or so big they require two people to carry them.

Erin is the project leader on these (pictured here with some of the ledgers). We are reviewing the condition of each ledger to determine whether it needs an enclosure to keep it safe during the move. Our options for enclosures include a Tyvek envelope, customizing a pre-made box, or making a custom enclosure or wrapper.

One of our favorite collections so far is the Sir Thomas Wardle Papers (fyi, William Morris collaborated with Sir Thomas!). These ledgers contain ink and pigment recipes as well as testing observations. One page in particular caught my attention for its cochineal information. You might recall that cochineal has been in the news lately.

This ledger is number F-6862, “Absorption Spectra of Indian Dyes, 1886, Leek, Staffordshire, England.” The binding was made by William Clemesha, Printer, Stationer, and Account Book Manufacturer.

This ledger is a prime example of what we mean when we say that in addition to the contents, the bindings themselves may contain valuable information. Not only do the binder’s tickets tell us something (who made it, where and when), but the way these are put together and the materials the binder used also tells us something about the manufacturing norms of the stationer, textile, leather and paper industries at a particular time and place.

I could go on and on about the treasures we are finding in our ledgers!  There are more images on Flickr, please take a look. You might also be interested in the Rubenstein Library’s images  and their blog posts about the renovation project. We are engaged on all fronts in preparing our collections for the upcoming move.