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.

Torah Scroll, c. 1900

This large Torah scroll requires two people to lift and carry it from the shelves to the classroom, where it is often on display for classes and events.

Currently, this Torah scroll sits on the shelf wrapped in cloth and tied with a woven strap. Due to its high use, its heavy weight, and wear on the handles, this scroll is in need of a custom box. The custom box will allow the scroll to be shelved, transported, and used more safely to continue making sure that it is properly preserved for the future.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $300

Oscar H. Harpel, Harpel’s Typograph, 1870

Books are meant to be used, but using a book (even carefully) can cause damage over time. This well-loved book of typography has a few loose pages, a broken hinge at the front spine, small tears in the foldout pages, and some dirt on the pages and binding. These damages occur with use, especially in books from this time period with acidic paper.

To make sure students and researchers can continue using this book, the book will be deacidified, paper tears will be mended, and the hinge will be repaired.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $500

Johann Glauber, The Works of the Highly Experienced and Famous Chymist, 1689

This 17th century book was repaired by a previous owner who stitched the boards back onto the spine (left). The sewing has come loose and the boards are once again detached. Though the sewing was done badly, it is now part of the history of the book. Not only is this an interesting work on medicine, alchemy, and chemistry, former owners used the book for keeping family records, principally the Draper family of North Carolina.

Repairs will include: stabilizing the torn pages at the front and back of the book, treating the leather, general cleaning, and a custom box. This will allow for careful use of the book while still preserving the previous repair.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $500

Lothar Meggendorfer, Curious Creatures, 1890

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 ones created for children are often used to death, so it is especially amazing that this book survived at all!

Many of the mechanisms that allow the animals in Curious Creatures to move have indeed broken (right). A trained conservator will be needed to mend the broken pieces.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $800

Cruikshank Drawings and Proofs, 19th Century

George Cruikshank (1792-1878) is renowned for his social caricatures and book illustration whose work appeared in various magazines, periodicals, and books throughout the 19th century. He often illustrated books for his good friend Charles Dickens.

This collection of original drawings includes 34 sheets of card stock with multiple images affixed to the page with dots of adhesive. To preserve these drawings, we will remove the original drawings from the cardstock and rehouse them in acid-free folders, which will make them easier to store and handle.

Estimated Conservation Cost: $800

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

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

Thankfully, the water has not damaged the text or watercolor. Because the book cannot be safely opened further than shown in the picture (right), we have not been able to use it in classes, exhibits, or make it available to researchers. Funds will be used to restore the binding to working conditions so scholars, students, and the community can enjoy this book.

FUNDED! Read more about this in the Conservation of The Raven article.

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.

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.

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.