Conserving Moore College’s treasures

In 2016 a special fundraising program was launched to invite people to partner with the Library in conserving some of the most precious items in the Rare Book and Archives collections. The Moore Treasures website and a feature article in the June 2016 edition of Southern Cross announced this project which has received a generous response. Additionally, a fundraising dinner held in November provided the library with the funding needed to undertake some much-needed and very exciting conservation projects.

The photographic collection of the Reverend Dr Frank Cash (1887-1964) carries great historical significance as it documents in hundreds of images the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For decades, most of these images have remained in their original form as glass plate negatives and lantern slides – fragile and inaccessible formats. Now they have all been digitised and are available on Myrrh, in an online collection which showcases the development of a Sydney icon, as well as other historic images of Moore College and the John Francis Cash Memorial Chapel.

Three of the rarest books in the Rare Book Library have also received conservation treatment thanks to this project. Our oldest book (St Augustine’s City of God, published in 1473), our first edition King James Bible and the Cruden’s Concordance brought out on the First Fleet by colonial chaplain Rev Richard Johnson all received expert care from International Conservation Services in Chatswood. Their conservation bookbinder was very excited about the rare opportunity to work on St Augustine’s work which was printed on Gutenberg’s press! Repairs included mending the spine and hinges of the binding, strengthening pages in danger of being torn and making a protective box for each book. They are very subtle, unobtrusive repairs but serve to strengthen the structure of the book and prevent any further damage.

The rare book and archival collections are large and continuously growing. Although we are greatly blessed to have special climate-controlled storage facilities in the new library which help reduce deterioration, there are still items in need of specialist treatment. A variety of audio-visual formats are obsolete and therefore inaccessible unless digitised. Books used by generations of scholars are now very fragile. If you would like to know more about this project, go to treasures.moore.edu.au

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