A few years ago I had to conserve this badly damaged Gil Blas Almanac from 1881.
The word Almanac was borrowed from medieval Latin almanac which came from Andalusian Arabic الْمَنَاخ almanâḵ (« almanach »). It is an annual publication that contains an astronomical calendar with the phases of the Moon, the length of days, eclipses, etc., and various practical tips according to the seasons.It also contained various information such as the table of the various administrations and the list of persons attached to them, statistical documents, notions on currencies, weights and measures, etc. They were usually pocket-sized in order to save paper. In this sense, almanacs were ephemeral literature as they were destined to be discarded at the end of the year.This is why, in the 19th century, they were made with inferior printing paper.
The cover which was almost detached, was torn, creased and had large yellow stains from oxidised pressure-sensitive tapes thatthat had been used to repair the vunerable parts of the pamphlet. I managed to preserve it and make it safe to handle.
I managed to preserve it and make it safe to handle. I reduced the oxidised remnants of tapes with poultices of solvent. I mended the mechanical damages with thin Japanese tissue paper and filled in the losses in the cover with toned Japanese paper.
Yesterday I came across some images of street vendors and book peedlers selling paper products. Not all merchants could afford to have a shop and from the Middle Ages onwards, itinerant merchants sold their wares in the towns but also roamed the countryside on foot.
The merchandise on offer was varied and included stationery, political pamphlets, prints and image d’Epinal, poular images, dventure novels, fashionable song lyrics and calendars. Some booklets were covered with exquisite paste or woodblock printed papers, called papiers dominotés in French. As these almanacs are dated, they are a great resource for dating decorative papers.
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