Bonnardot Supplement first page
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Alfred Bonnardot Issues the First Book on the Restoration of Rare Books and their Bindings

Bonnardot title page

In 1846 French bookbinder, restorer, and writer Alfred Bonnardot published Essai sur la restauration des anciennes estampes et des livres rares, ou Traité sur les meilleurs procédés a suivre pour réparer, détacher, décolorier et conserver les gravures, dessins et livres. Ouvrages spécialment utile aux artists, aux collectionneurs, aux marchands d'estampes, aux bibliophiles, etc. This was the first book on the restoration of rare books and their bindings. It also covered issues of restoration of works of art on paper, and was directed toward artists, collectors, print dealers and bibliophiles. The small work consisted of 80 pages, including an index.  

Bonnardot later issued a Supplément of 31 pages with 15 pages of revisions to the previous work and an additional Chapter XV (pp. 16-31) "De la restauration et de la reliure provisoire des livres rares." The Table des Chapitres was published on the first leaf of the index (p. 79).  15 pages of revisions to a text of only 80 pages, plus the addition of an additional chapter as an afterthought, suggest a work that was rapidly published, probably before the author had the opportunity to make sufficient revisions. 400 copies were printed.

In 1858 Bonnardot published a greatly revised second edition of this work. According to his preface to the later edition, the first edition was sold out by 1850, but presumably, having rushed the first edition, Bonnardot took sufficient time to put out a more definitive second edition. The revised edition, published 12 years after the first, consisted of eight preliminary pages, and 352 pages of text. In addition to the greatly expanded text, this edition is useful for its chronological listing, with comments, of rare works on the topics covered in the text. The list includes some books that Bonnardot knew about but was not able to see. The second edition also included an "Exposé des divers systèmes de reproduction des anciennes estampes et des livres rares." This covered lithographic, photographic, and other means of reproduction.  A German translation of the 1858 edition was published in 1859.

Portions of Bonnardot's 1858 edition were translated into English in Buck, Book Repair and Restoration . . . including some Translated Selections from Essai sur l'art de Restaurer les Estampes et les Livres par A. Bonnardot, Paris 1858 (1918).

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