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First edition Book of Mormon gets TLC at USU

April 12th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

Story and photos by Tyson Thorpe

LOGAN–In 1830, the Book of Mormon was printed in New York. In 2010, a copy owned by Utah State University received some restorative work.

Lou Lichfield, a consulting conservator at the Special Collections and Archives at USU, finished repairs Friday on a first edition of the Book of Mormon owned by the university.

The book, which is often shown to visiting dignitaries and is one of the university’s more valuable objects, was in need of conservation work, Lichfield said.  The problems needed to be repaired so as to not exacerbate the problems.

The book has a tightback binding where the leather cover is connected directly to the textblock, or pages, in the book, Lichfield said..  The main problem with USU’s copy of the book was that the leather cover had been torn away.

The leather had also shrunk, so that it would no longer fit the textblock, she said. The cover had to be humidified to be restored to its proper size.

Lichfield said some of the pages were damaged and she used starch paste and Japanese tissue paper to repair them.

When conserving an object, Lichfield said, the conservator follows a set of ethics that prevent repair work from being hidden or being too showy.  She said the restorative work should not call attention from the original object.

A few objects removed from the book, such as cords sewn into the original book, were kept.

“Keeping remnants of the book is kind of like keeping the history of the book,” Lichfield said.


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