Photo Documentation


Front cover: before treatment


Spine and front cover: before treatment


Front endleaves: before treatment


Opening characteristic: before treatment


Front cover: after treatment


Spine and front cover: after treatment


Front endleaves: after treatment


Opening characteristic: after treatment

Treatment Record Documentation

Date of Examination:   May, 2018

Title:  Chronicle of Flanders (MS M.435)

Date:  Bruges, Belgium, ca. 1490

Owner: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Department, Morgan Library & Museum 

Call Number:  MS M.435     


Background Information:

Joseph Barrois (no. 495); sold in 1894 to Bertram Ashburham, Earl of Ashburnham (his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 1901, no. 199) to Quaritch; Rodolphe Kann, Paris (cat. 1907, I, no. 69, facsimile); purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) from Duveen Brothers in 1909; J.P. Morgan (1867-1943).


The manuscript will be treated for an upcoming loan to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in July, 2019. 

Collation (signatures, format, leaves, pagination, foliation, and inserts):

The book-block is comprised of 355 leaves (not including 4 flyleaves).
Pages are sewn-in bifolios.
Modern foliation in Arabic numerals was written in graphite at the upper right corner.



According to the records, this manuscript was rebound in 1849, simulating the design of the original covers.

Binding:  The binding of the manuscript is full, reddish brown leather of calf skin with four false raised bands on the spine. The overall appearance of the binding is English 19th style, with blind toolings. Both the spine and covers were blind tooled with diapered fleur-de-lis panels and decorative boarders. The second panel of the spine from the top has the title tooled in gold on a red onlay leather label, read “CRONICKE VAN VLÆNDEREN  ─ FLEMISH XV CENT.”  The endbands with front beads are sewn in with green and yellow silk thread over rolled paper cords, with only a few tie downs. The boards are fairly thick (7mm), study and made of paste laminated boards.  They were attached to the text-block with four sewing supports lacing into the boards. 

Text-block: The text-block is made of medium weight handmade laid paper in off-white color.  A coat of arm watermark can be seen on most of the pages, which has fleur-de-lis and lion pattern inside a quartered shield: one and four with the lion pattern, two and three with the fleur-de-lis pattern (fol. 225v is a blank page and shows the watermark clearly). All the pages of the text-block are trimmed and the edges are stained in red.  The text-block was sewn on 4 recessed cords and 2 kettle stitches. (Cleaning the spine revealed that they originally sewn with five raised cords, each single cord was worked with two holes.) The spine of the text-block was rounded and backed, and lined with newsprint paper and cloth. 

The endleaves were constructed with two tipped on bifolios of medium weight wove paper in off-white color. The outer two leaves were adhered onto the inner side of the boards as pastedown. 

The text is written mainly in black ink in 1 column; red ink was also used in rare occasion for the text but more often used for underlines. There are also 7 full-page colored drawings, and 7 marginal drawings. Two pieces of the original covers are pasted on inside covers of both front and back.    There is also a leather bookplate of John Pierpont Morgan adhered at the bottom of the front pastedown. Inscriptions are written on the front fly leaf in graphite. 




Binding: The binding is in poor condition overall with a detached front board, abraded spine and deteriorating leather. The leather over the front joint is deteriorated and the front board is fully detached. The leather on the spine is abraded and cracking, with the grain layer almost worn out and the inner layer is suffering from red rots. Both the head and tail endcaps are fragile and the bottom panel of the spine is fully detached. The back board is still attached but the leather over the back joint is worn out. There is a small repair over the back joint of the bottom panel.  The bottom endband is fragile and break into two pieces.  

Text-block: The text-block is in good condition overall. The outmost front leaves of both front and back are stained by the leather turn-ins, original cover panels and book plate. 

It is not possible to reuse the nineteenth-century binding due to the severely degraded condition of the leather. So the goal of treatment is to secure the opening of the text-block and protect the integrity of the manuscript with a new appropriate binding. All of the previous binding components will be preserved off the book.


(1)    The leather spine was removed mechanically with a spatula. After the remnant pieces of leather spine were removed, they were kept in an L-sleeve polyester film (Mylar®). 
(2)    The false bands, lining materials of newspaper, cloth and parchment on the spine were removed and reduced mechanically with a spatula.  
(3)    5% of methylcellulose poultice was applied onto the spine of the text-block to clean up the residue of spine lining materials and adhesive. 
(4)    A layer of medium weight Japanese paper (senkashi thin) with the width and height as the spine of the text-block was applied onto the spine with wheat starch paste.
(5)    Splitting front endleaf: A strip of Japanese tissue (Tengujo paper 9gsm) was adhered onto the spine edge of the front flyleaf with wheat starch paste. Then the flap of the Japanese tissue on the other side was hinged onto the spine to reinforce the attachment of the flyleaf. 
(6)    New endpaper sections: A new endpaper section of two bifolios with Cockerell paper (Barcham Green™) was added to both front and back. The new endpaper sections were sewn all-along with linen thread (Colophon best machine sewing thread – pure linen 18/3®). A Japanese tissue hinge was added to reinforce the attachment. The text-block was kept under press for the endpapers to form the spine shoulder shape.
(7)    New spine lining: An overhang aero-linen spine liner was prepared with the long edge sanded and the fibre frayed out. The linen liner was applied onto the spine with wheat starch paste. After the spine liner was fully dry, the attachment of the linen liner to the spine was reinforced with pamphlet stitch sewing. Each side of the flap was divided into three separate parts with two small cut at head and tail. 
(8)    New endbands: New endbands were sewn with linen thread (3/18 linen thread) over a linen cord core. Primary wound endbands were done with figure of eight movement; Secondary endbands were done with front beads using colored linen thread.
(9)    Two layers of extra paper lining were applied with wheat starch paste using watercolor paper (khadi watercolor paper, rough, 210gsm). After the paper linings were fully dry, the spine was slight sanded to make it smoother. 
(10)    New boards: 8-ply cotton board, 2-ply cotton board, and Permalife® paper were laminated together with wheat starch paste. The boards were put under press shortly and let air dry. After the laminated boards were fully dry, they were cut to size. The head, tail and for-edge of the board were beveled with a sanded block. 
(11)    The center pieces of the linen flange were attached onto the outside of the boards with wheat starch paste. And the small pieces at head and tail were left unattached at this stage. 
(12)    A piece of 2- ply cotton board was attached to the outer side of both the front and back board, which to provide a better connection in-between the board and the text-block; as well as to provide a smoother surface on the outside of the board. 
(13)    False bands were made with twisted alum tawed skin and applied onto the spine with wheat starch paste. 
(14)    A big piece of Brown Franz Hoffmann calf leather was prepared with the edges were pared thin. The new leather covering was applied with wheat starch paste and the raised-bands were tightened up with cords. 
(15)    The edges of the turn-ins were trimmed straight and an infill of 10pt stock (Bristol Board) was applied on the inner side of each board with wheat starch board. Adhered the outer two flyleaves onto the boards with wheat starch paste. 
(16)    Dampened the leather with deionized water and blind-tooled the leather with a bone-folder and a stamp to create the diapered fleur-de-lis panels which simulating the original covers. Put the pattern in permanently with hot brass tools.