Conservation of a silk binding

Before conservation

After conservation

About the object

Eredeti nagy opera négy felvonásban szerzé Erkel Ferencz. Szövegét irta Egressi Béni. Sajtó alá rendezte és németre forditotta Kern Aurél. Teljes zongora-kivonat magyar és német szöveggel és a szinpadi elrendezés pontos megjelölésével. / Ladislaus Hunyady. Grand opera in four acts by Ferenc Erkel. Text by Benjamin Egressi. Revised and translated into German by Aurel v. Kern. Complete piano score with Hungarian and German text and precise stage direction. Budapest: Rózsavölgyi o.J. [1896]. R. & Co. 2433. 5, 309 S., 1 plate.

The opera Hundyadi László by the Hungarian composer Ferenc Erkel was first performed in 1844 on January 27th at the National Theatre in Pest (today Budapest). The libretto after Lőrinc Tóth’s drama with the same title was written by Béni Egressi. Erkel had been interested in specific Hungarian themes for a while and was very enthousiastic about the material of Hunyadi-László.

In 1856 the opera was performed for the first time in Vienna at the Theater auf der Wieden in Hungarian language. The first performance in German language took place 1895 in Prague. Hunyadi László was soon to become a Hungarian national opera. Due to its specific national Hungarian features it became a lasting success.

The present piano score with Hungarian and German Text in a splendid binding dates from 1856. It was a present for Emperor Franz Joseph I and it also includes a poster of the opera’s first performance. The book is made as a silk binding with metal fittings and colour printing.


The book cover shows mechanical damage typical for textile bindings. Lacunae in the cover material of the spine and on the front cover are generated by use and handling. Silk threads are torn, they are loose and lack internal bonds and bonds to the cover material and they are thus prone to get lost.

Treatment report

One difficulty with the treatment of textile bindings is finding a suitable material for compensating losses. Its weave, colour and thickness should be as close to the original material as possible. Nowadays textile fabrics are machine-made and have a very different aspect from the materials from past centuries, which were exclusively hand-made.

Another challenge for the conservator is the use of adhesives. Silk and velvet fabrics can easily transfer adhesives to the recto and generate stains.

In this particular case the silk threads were consolidated with cellulose solved in alcohol. The losses were under-laid with dyed silk. The loose original threads were aligned over the new material and adhered with dry wheat starch paste.




last update 1/1/2016