Gorgeous atlases worth up to a staggering 400,000 zł finally conserved after two YEARS of painstaking work
Over 20 precious atlases worth up to 400,000 złoty (87,000 euros) have undergone conservation and digitalization at the Raczyński Library in Poznań.
The 23 titles in 32 volumes, which include the "Civitatum aliquote insignarum et locorum magis munitorum exacta delineatio" published in Venice in 1574 – the oldest atlas in the library’s collection and one of the oldest around – took a painstaking two years to work on with teams of conservators working around the clock.
After being disinfected, their paper and pigments were analysed to determine how to proceed. The atlases were cleaned page by page, edges were strengthened and tears were repaired using Japanese tissue paper.
The restored atlases also include marine atlas "Das fünfte Theil des Grossen Atlantis welches begreiffet die Wasser-Welt" by Dutch cartographer Johannes Janssonius from 1652, which contains hand-coloured maps of the sea and oceans, and the "Atlas von dem Regierungs Departement im Grossherzogthum Posen" from 1821, which contains maps of all seventeen counties of the Poznań region.
The atlases have a total estimated value of over 6.5 million złoty (1.4 million euros), with the most precious reaching worth 400,000 złoty (87,000 euros).
The library said that the purpose is to preserve the atlases for future researchers, rather than to erase the traces of time.
The library’s director Anna Gruszecka said: "Conservation work is not about making the old book look like a new one.
“In the past, people tried to do this, and for many reasons it was abandoned – it can be said that botox has been replaced with golden threads.
“Traces imprinted on the book by time and users are part of its history”.
The atlases were also digitised, which not only preserves them in an additional, non-paper format, but can also make them easier for researchers to consult.
Founded by Count Edward Raczyński the library currently contains over 9000 manuscripts, almost 18,000 old prints and approximately 10,000 maps and charts.
With its façade featuring a colonnade reminiscent of the east façade of the Louvre in Paris, the neoclassical building that houses the library was built in 1822-1828.
Most of the library’s collection of books was destroyed in a fire in 1945.
The building was rebuilt in 1953-1956, with the façade refurbished more recently, in 1998.