Legacy of Books Wishlist

An example of damage done to the pages of a book by a beetle.

Imagine that the written record of human thought and endeavor was slowly disintegrating, eventually becoming unreadable. Today Washington University Libraries face that daunting dilemma, as age and use take a steady toll on our collections.

Help us preserve our past and protect our future by giving to the Libraries’ Legacy of Books program. A tax-deductible gift of $100 or more covers the cost of preserving one library book or an item in another format. Larger gifts cover multiple items or more costly conservation projects such as those described below.

Current Wishlist

Please contact Rebecca Wagner in University Libraries Advancement with questions about making a gift. If the conservation project you are interested in is already funded, she would be happy to connect you with Special Collections staff to discuss additional preservation opportunities based on your interests.

Two pieces from F.T. Marinetti's Les mots en liberté futuristes typography volume showcasing various fonts and styles.

F.T. Marinetti, Les mots en liberté futuristes, 1919

This fragile volume of early 20th-century typography is not only a first edition signed by the author that is used in many classes, but it is also coming apart at the seams, literally! In addition to a new custom-sized, archival enclosure, the volume needs to be deacidified to prevent further deterioration of the paper, needs to see the removal of remnants of previous non-archival bindings, and stabilization mending of existing tears.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $500

Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, 1773

This first edition of poetry written by Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman poet, has doodles on her portrait and detached boards. While special collections normally do not remove ownership markings, those here disrespect Wheatley and her achievements. The doodles will be removed, the boards will be reattached, and the paper will be stabilized so the book can be used without the potential for more damage to occur.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $800

The image shows an open page of Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects. On the left is an illustration of the author sat writing at a table and the right is the publication page.
An undetailed map of the town of Saint Louis circa 1819 with a large tear through one of the folded sections.

A Map of the Town of St. Louis, ca. 1819

This early hand-drawn map is an amazing resource for the history of St. Louis, but it needs work to be safely used by students and researchers. Conservation will include deacidification, removing the map from the poor-quality fabric backing to reline it with stable support, and fixing the case it is housed in.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $900

Edgar Allan Poe, Mesmerism “in Articulo Mortis,” 1846

Poe’s interest in mesmerism (or hypnotism) is seen in this literary work that he wrote in the style of a scientific text. This volume has been heavily damaged by water, which has caused the boards to warp and the boards to become detached. The pages are brittle, and the sewn structure is failing. This volume needs significant work to stabilize and repair the binding.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $1,500

The image is of a water-warped book shown closed but not lying flat, as the water damage is causing the text to bend.
The image shows a Hebrew manuscript that is heavily water damaged.

Ibhronoth Manuscript, Date Unknown

This unique, handwritten manuscript on intercalation (the creation of the calendar) in Hebrew has a beautiful array of tables, diagrams, annotations, and marginalia. An inscription gives the purchase date as the 4th of Kislev, 1649 but the volume itself may be considerably older. The pages, stained by water damage, are brittle and heavily soiled. The binding has fallen apart, and the ink is fading. This volume needs significant work to deacidify, clean, and repair it.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $1,500

Completed Wishlist

The following wishlist items are those that have benefitted from the support of our donors. Past contributions have allowed the conservation and preservation of these former-wishlist materials to enable researchers and students alike to continue studying them well into the future.

Visit our page on Preservation for more information on how items within the Washington University Libraries are kept and maintained.

Angelo Carletti, Summa Angelica, 1488

At a time when books were considered precious objects, bindings sometimes included chains to prevent theft or loss. This beautifully preserved example of a chained binding required a custom-made case that provided additional protection and prevented the metal attachments from damaging neighboring volumes on the shelf. The text of this incunable, or book printed before 1501, is by the 15th century Franciscan Angelo Carletti, a writer on canon and civil law.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven, and Other Poems, 1845

A waterdamaged edition of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, and Other Poems from 1845 on the Legacy of Books wishlist.

This first edition of The Raven with its gorgeous designer binding had severe water damage. The water damage had tightened the binding and warped the boards so that the book could only be opened slightly, barely enough to see the original watercolor by Titz added before the title page.

Thankfully, the water had not damaged the text or watercolor. Funds were used to restore the binding to working conditions so scholars, students, and the community could enjoy this book.

H. M. Brackenridge, Views of Louisiana, 1814

In this work, Brackenridge, a lawyer and journalist who moved to Missouri in 1810, records details of his journey up the Missouri River, along with information about the history and geography of the area. Both covers of the volume were detached.

Conserved with a gift from Laura Epstein Shindler, LA68 and Donald A. Shindler, BU68.

Horace, Opera cum Commentariis, 1516

Bindings produced early in the 16th century are somewhat scarce. This fine example of tooled leather covering wooden boards was probably executed shortly after this critical edition of Horace appeared in 1516. The front board had split along the wood grain and torn the leather at the break.

Conserved with a gift from Jef and Kathy Missman in honor of Vice Chancellor Shirley K. Baker.

The image is of an open book (1886 edition of Alice's Adventures Underground) with the pages noticeably unbound from the spine.

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures Underground, 1886

This beautiful facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript, including 37 illustrations drawn by him, needs work to stabilize the text block. A gathering of pages has separated from the rest, and many others are loose. The binding has split and is in need of cleaning.

This work was conserved with a gift from Lester Reingold, LA73, and Sue Reingold in honor of the 50th wedding anniversary of Debbie Colodny, LA73, and Chuck Colodny, LA73.

Lothar Meggendorfer, Curious Creatures, 1890

Damaged, movable creatures from Lothar Meggendorfer's Curious Creatures on the Legacy of Books wishlist.

Curious Creatures adds adorability through the ability to make the creatures move. The creator of this book, Lothar Meggendorfer, is famous for designing early moveable books for children in late 19th century Germany. Movable books are especially fragile, and those created for children are often used to death, so it is amazing that this book survived!

Curious Creatures was conserved with a gift from Lester Reingold, LA73, and Sue Reingold in honor of the 50th wedding anniversary of Debbie Colodny, LA73, and Chuck Colodny, LA73. Many of the mechanisms that allowed the animals in Curious Creatures to move had broken. A trained conservator was needed to mend the broken pieces.

Optique no. 4 : Promenade de Longchamp, ca., 1827 (aka peepshow)

This early example of a peep show forms part of the Libraries’ Henrietta Hochschild Collection of Children’s Books. The structure consists of a series of illustrated cut-outs connected by paper hinges to create a three-dimensional scene viewed through the opening at the center. Many of the hinges in this copy were weakened or split through use by previous owners, making the item vulnerable to further deterioration.

Conserved with a gift from Anne and David Bromer in honor of Julian I. Edison.