The restoration of the Vienna Dioscorides

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Waechter, Otto;


Studies in conservation, Volume 7, Number 1, p.22-26 (1962)


conservation, Invadin met, manuscripts, Vienna dioscorides


The "Vienna Dioscorides" is an illustrated manuscript made for the Imperial Princess Anicia Juliana of Byzantium about the year A.D. 512. The main part of the work consists of a Herbarium taken from the work of Dioscorides (first century A.D.). There are 479 paintings, 392 of them full-page. In the course of time the parchment had become brittle and weakened. Holes and breaks needed repair and flaking paint needed restoration. The stages of restoration were as follows. (1) Separation of the leaves, and removal of old glue. Softening of the glue was aided by the use of weak vinegar solution or a wetting agent "Invadin met.", made by Ciba Ltd. (2) Removal of dirt and candle drippings. (3) Removal of the worst foxing. A solution of hydrogen peroxide plus 2 per cent anhydrous ammonia was used. (4) Neutralization of the ink-corroded parts using a solution of calcium hydroxide or sodium bicarbonate. (5) Regeneration. Each leaf was wetted with alcohol, stretched, and sprayed with parchment size. Several sprays were generally necessary. (6) Softening of brittle leaves, where necessary, with an emulsion as described above. (7) Mending of tears. (8) Mending of perforations. (9) Completion of missing parts of the parchment with equivalent parchment. (10) Final stretching. Garry Thomson