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Re: [BKARTS] skinny signatures

I came in this morning to find a treasure trove of responses to my list
query last week about the problems posed by skinny signatures.  I thank all
of you who took the time to deliberate and answer.  I notice we are
broadening out here not only to the origins of the problem, but possible
ways for dealing with the book in question.  I am most grateful for those
suggestions, too.
  As some have asked for more details about this particular book, it is an
English imprint of 1668, as I said.  It is in law French (that very
peculiar dialect of French, English and Latin used by English lawyers of
the period):
  Un Abridgement des Plusieurs Cases et Resolutions del Common Ley:
alphebeticalment digest desouth severall titles;  per Henry Rolle, serjeant
del ley.  ovesque Un Table des general titles contenus en ceo.

The work is in two volumes (I haven't tackled vol. 2 yet) in a perished
19th century binding, 6 stations sewn several up.   There is no indication
that the original binding was in two volumes, nor does the title page say
anything about multiple volumes.  There is no title page for volume 2, but
the numbering is not consecutive with volume one.  The paper looks
consistent through both volumes, vertical laid lines (haven't yet spotted a
water mark) page measuring 34.4 cm, by 22.3 cm.  I haven't calculated
original sheet size yet.
   I have just now quickly done a test pattern for two of the inner folios
(C2 and U2)  and detected already a ghost sewing station between the more
recent stations 5 and 6 (from the head).   Using its placement as a fixed
point, stations 1 and 3 are reused, with the ghost as a third.  I usually
do a pattern for every central folio in a book to reconstruct the earlier
sewing pattern, but there are too many in this one so I will probably do
every fifth one to see if I get anywhere.  As far as I can tell it has not
been rebound too many times, but the central fold is not always intact and
splits are hard to tell from sewing holes sometimes.
    I conferred with Pamela Spitzmueller at Harvard's main conservation
center, and we settled on a tengujo number 5 as the thickest mending tissue
we could risk for a thick, skinny gathering book of this kind.  I don't
need to get it back into the 19th century binding, so when the fold repairs
are completed I can decide whether I will have to sew it up.  I would
prefer to use a double cord support, but do single flexible sewing on
alternate cords using very thin thread.  This is a rare book, so heavy use
is not a factor.  Law French is not a hot draw for most medievalists, let
alone undergraduates.
  As Ed S. pointed out, the trade solution would be to oversew etc., but
since the economic pressures that produced such solutions are not operable
here (thank God), that need not be considered.   The books also have the
signature of Joseph Story, whose gift of books to the fledgling Harvard Law
School was the cornerstone of its library so his books are given special
consideration here.
    If you have read this far, you are 1) interested   2) desperate for
amusement  3) crazy.   For those of you in the first two groups, here is
another little problem.   There is a nice signature by a former owner which
includes a date.   Feb. 7, the the figure 2 over the figure 3 with a
horizontal bar between like the fraction two thirds, then something that
could be either a back slash or the number 1.  The F in February is the old
style double f with flourish, which makes me wonder if Mr. Hooper, the
owner in question, was being all very fancy and in that case perhaps
affecting English Chancery dating, so would this be, in that dating system,
Feb. 7, 1803 ??  Then what is the back slash?  Those in the third class can
tell I will be joining them very shortly.
    Thanks to all,

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