Description of the restoration works carried out on three of the five volumes of the Library of the Vatican Museums

In this post we proudly present the program undertaken by the Paper Lab of the Vatican Museums, involving the restoration of three of the five books of the “Stories of the Missions of the Church.” These three manuscripts from our 2015 Wishbook have been generously sponsored by our patron Joe Pacetti of the Texas Chapter. They are true treasures of the Vatican Museums’ collection dating back to the 18th Century. In these volumes, we find ourselves at the intersection of Ethology, the beauty of graphics, and the importance of history–confirming once again, the rich heritage of the Vatican Museums’ collection.

These volumes had several damages on the spine.  Pages were fading and some of the covers were also losing color. The interior pages deteriorated and the incisions were damaged by oxidation. In some places the tissue paper between the leaf and was ripped or contained holes due to the weight of the book.

Costumes des Anciens Peuples
Inventory Number. 23278
Project Number 504722
“Costumes des anciens peoples”; M.D.Bardon; Paris; 1784; 29x21x3
Two volumes of 116 papers; full leather with nerves in relief on the back






Spine of the book I – Before

book 2

Spine of the book I – After

Born in Aix-en-Provence, Michel-François Dandré-Bardon relocated to Paris to start up his career and escape from a family that wanted him to become magistrate and study law. There, he had the opportunity to become closer to art and painting during the period of his univerisity studies. His first professors of art were Jean-Baptiste van Loo and Jean-François de Troy. He wrote van Loo’s biography in 1765. After traveling  throughout Italy to destinations, including Rome and Venice, as a part of his academic formation, he was admitted to the Reale accademia di Pittura in 1735. There, he would in 1752, go on to become  professor of painting and sculpture. A greatly-cultured man, he was also a musician and poet, aside from a painter. He is considered to be one of the greatest art theorists of the XVIII century. He died in Paris in 1783.


Restoration works carried out on the volumes:

  • The papers and the cover have been mechanically cleaned using brushes and erasers
  • Tears and holes have been repaired using: a particular Japanese paper of specific color and weight, and a reversible adhesive
  • Alcoholic Deacidification of papers
  • Reinforcement of the hinges with Japanese paper, and a reversible adhesive
  • Holes found on the reverse sides have been filled with paper pulp
  • The headband/endband and angles of the covers have been reinforced with leather
  • The leather spine’s backstrip has been restored with leather, watercolor paper and a reversible adhesive

Vestments & Traditions of the Greeks

Inventory Number 24309
Project Number 504723
“Vestiture ed usi dei popoli della moderna Grecia”;
O.M De Stackelberg, Napoli, 1827; 34×23,5×1,5
40 watercolored engravings, half leather and paper  


Otto von Stackelberg (Reval, Tallinn, July 25, 1786- Riga March 27, 1837), artist and archaeologist. Born in Estonia to Otto Christian Engelbrecht von Stackelberg and Anna Gertruda Düker, he was left fatherless at age 6 when his father, colonel of the Russian Imperial Army, died in 1792. Given his predisposition for art, his mother entrusted him to the painter Tedesco Reus, who became his private tutor. Headed towards a career in diplomacy, he started his studies at the Università di Göttingen in 1803. However, a trip he took with his brothers to Switzerland within the same year caused him to radically change his professional prospective. In Zurich, he admired to works of Johann Caspar Lavater and Salomon Geßner, and he met Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. From there, he proceeded on to Italy with his brother Karl in 1804.


Detail of the upper corner of the front pastdown endpaper – Before

detail after

Detail of the upper corner of the front pastdown endpaper – After









Restoration works carried out on the volume:

• The papers and the cover have been mechanically cleaned using brushes and erasers
• Tears and holes have been repaired using: Japanese paper of a particular color and weight, and a reversible adhesive
• Hinges have been reinforced
• Corners have been remade with leather and a reversible adhesive
• The back cover has been restored with leather, watercolor paper and a reversible adhesive
• The papers of the pastedown endpaper/free endpaper have been restored with Japanese paper, reversible adhesive and watercolors


Costumes Civils, Militaires, e Religieux du Mexique

N.Commessa 504724
“Costumes civilis, militaris et religieux du Mexique; C.Linati, Bruxelles,18..; 32x24x2,
48 incisioni acquerellate, 22 carte; mezza pelle e carta.



Claudio Linati was born in Parma on February 1, 1790 to Count Filippo and Emanuella of the Cogorani Counts, who died during childbirth. G. Caderini, a law student, who for many years lived in the Linati household, played an influential role in Linati’s education: it was he who instilled patriotic and liberal sentiments in the young Linati. Linati, from his youth, cultivated his artistic talents: in 1808 he entered the Parmese Society of engravers in watercolor (la “Société des graveurs au lavis”), founded the previous year by P. Toschi, A. Isac, T. Gasparotti, and V. Raggio. When he followed his father, legislative body deputy for the Department of Taro, to Paris in the beginning of 1809, he met artists such as J.-L. David, under whose tutelage he remained for some time. After 1814, he joined his father in Barcelona, and in February of the following year he married Spaniard Isabella Bacardì, with whom he had five children.

Detail of the Spine - Before

Detail of the Spine – Before

Detail of the Spine - After

Detail of the Spine – After

With the move of the family to Parma around 1818-1819 , he became close to local underground sects and became an activist of the revolutionary program in the Duchies of Modena and Parma. During the uprisings of 1820 he was arrested and then exiled. Between 1822 and 1823, he dedicated himself to the cause of the Spanish constitutionalists against the realists and the French campaign body. Arrested and condemned to death with his goods and property confiscated by the Spanish government, he finally found refuge in Holland. He also resided in Brussels for a period of time, working as a writer and translator.

In September of 1825, he departed for Mexico where he obtained citizenship, opened the first litographic laboratory of the country and an important school of design. Together with his friend, F. Galli, who had preceded him, and the profuse Cuban poet José María de Heredia y Campuzano, Linati founded the first literary review of the newly-independent country on February 4, 1826. The publication El Iris, “periódico crítico y literario”, was meant to entertain the public, particularly the female audience, with a politically-educative end goal. For this, he was soon opposed by other newspapers, including El Aguila and El Sol, and Linati risked expulsion. In September of 1826, Linati left for Europe; after brief stops in New York, London, and Antwerp, he arrived in Holland in March of the following year. In 1828 he published a work in segments that became rare and highly-valued (Costumes civiles, militaires et religieux du Mexique). This book featured colored illustrations and drawings equipped with informative notes, and it was welcomed with great interest and favorably reviewed by the Gazette des Pays-Bas. He collaborated for a long time with the review L’Industriel. Between 1830 and 1831, he continued to be active in the struggle for the liberty of Spain and Italy. In 1832, he left for Mexico once more. Disembarking in the port of Tampico, he died on December 11, 1832 after a “brief and painful illness” (perhaps yellow fever), as the local newspaper obituary mentioned the next day.

Restoration works carried out on the volume:

•    Dismantling the seam of the cover
•    Mechanical cleaning using brushes and erasers
•    Tears and holes were reparied using Japanese paper of specific color and weight and a reversible adhesive
•    Application of reversible whipstitch binding to mimic original binding of the book
•    Remaking of the corners using Japanese watercolor paper and a reversible adhesive
•    The spine was restored with leather, watercolor paper and a reversible adhesive