The Restoration of a Volume from the Library of Mrs. Bertha Palmer

Funded by the

Bertha Honore Palmer Chapter #1355 of Questers International

Books belonging to Mrs. (Bertha Honore) Potter Palmer were given to the Ringling Museum Library in 1970. There are almost one hundred titles in the Palmer collection ranging in subjects from architecture to interior design to gardening to furniture, pottery, and glass. Some of the titles are limited editions of oversized folios.

The Palmer collection includes seven volumes of Daniel Hudson Burnham’s The Art of the World, from 1893, which documents the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago of that same year. In addition to Mrs. Palmer’s role as patron of the arts and social leader of Chicago, she acted as President of the Board of Lady Managers for the fair. Her set of Burnham’s books is a rare “artist’s facsimile Japan edition,” numbered 144 over 150 copies. Library staff  have not yet located another copy of this special edition in any library in the United States. The seven volumes of embossed (faux) leather, as well as a beautiful gold cloth, needed repair so they could be displayed. Because of their rarity, they were worked on by professional Conservator Marcella Estevez, and restored to their original splendor.

These images show you the “before” poor condition of the volumes, yet also the beauty of the materials which have been revealed through the restoration and preservation of the folio cover and color plates. Brown tape, cellophane tape, and other residue have been removed; the gold satin-like material has been cleaned, and decorative endpapers were repaired. The Goupil watercolor facsimiles are now in archival acid free mounts, and other general repairs completed will preserve the integrity of the folio.

Mrs. Palmer was an important figure in the establishment of Sarasota County early in the 20th Century. The preservation of her library will help secure her legacy for generations to come.

Mrs. Palmer died in 1918 in her Osprey, Florida home.

Before images:

palmer book before 1

Harmful tapes and labels all needed to be removed, and the cover and fabric cleaned.

before 2

Early poor and unsuccessful attempts to repair the volume needed to be removed.

After images:

palmer book after 1

after 2


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