Statutory safety: rebinding the Proctors’ Books
Historic volumes from outside the the University Library, intrinsic to University ceremonial, have been recent visitors to the Conservation Studio.
These two books contain the first printed edition of the University’s statutes, Statuta academiae Cantabrigiensis (Cambridge, 1785); the rules, that is, by which it was governed until the mid-nineteenth century. The 1785 text replaced manuscript versions, compiled from the 1390s onwards (enjoying retirement in the University Archives and pictured below).
The volumes are carried by the Senior and Junior Proctors, senior officers of the University, during ceremonial events such as the award of honorary degrees. Appointed annually in a cycle, College by College, the Proctors originally had wide-ranging responsibility for ensuring the statutes were observed, for stewardship of the University’s finances, oversight of its market’s authority, conduct of academic disputations and the discipline of junior and senior members. Although statute reform down the centuries has reduced the scale of proctorial activity, and statutes are now published annually online, the weighty bound volumes from 1785, armoured with metalwork against any possible affray in the exercise of their duties, continue to be carried as symbolic badges of office.
The main conservation objective was to make the books safe for use during ceremonial duties and preserve the integrity of the appearance of the bindings as ceremonial objects. They were conserved and rebound by Cambridge University Libraries Conservators @shaun_thompson_ & @sfoleybookcons.