The two-year project to conserve important items from within the Oriental Manuscripts Collection in the University of St Andrews Library’s Special Collections Division is now well under way. The conservation of the first batch of four manuscripts (including the most valuable – our outstanding Timurid Qur’an) has been completed by Conservator, Helen Loveday, and the entire group will be conserved by mid 2015.
Of the three manuscripts requiring the most extensive treatment, one (the Timurid Qur’an) has been completed, one (an 17th or 18th century illuminated Qur’an) is presently undergoing treatment, and the third (The Book of Wonders of the Age – a 17th or 18th century copy of two earlier Persian works, lavishly illustrated) will be provided in the final batch.
To highlight just one, the 15th century Timurid Qur’an, one of our most revered treasures (for a description of it, see Treasures of St Andrews University Library; London, 2010, pp.142-5), was suffering from fracturing of illuminated borders throughout the manuscript, caused by the use of the copper-based pigment verdigris for the textblock illumination; where it had been applied to the paper, the corrosive action of the pigment had weakened and severed the cellulose fibres, causing the folios to split – most notably at the shoulder of the page as it curves into the spine of the opened volume. These unsightly and de-stabilising splits have been carefully and invisibly repaired, some inappropriate earlier paper repairs have been replaced, the binding refurbished, and the whole manuscript cleaned. Truly, thanks to the generosity of the NMCT and the skill of the conservator, this wonderful manuscript has a new lease of life. The Timurid Qu'ran was featured in a recent St Andrews' blog which can be seen by following this link.