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Conserving the Trevelyon Miscellany

Thomas Trevelyon. Miscellany. Manuscript, 1608

Thomas Trevelyon. Miscellany. Manuscript, 1608

Thomas Trevelyon was 60 years old when he created what is now known as the “Trevelyon Miscellany” in 1608. This colorful manuscript book, which consists of 290 double-sided leaves in the large “folio” size, might be best described as a prototype coffee table book, created for the entertainment, education, and edification of his friends and family. The subject matter leaps from mundane to mythical, poetic to practical, including embroidery patterns, calendars, lists of rulers, and more.


For decades, the 1608 manuscript was inaccessible to scholars because of its fragility. In creating his illustrations, Trevelyon used iron gall ink for the lettering and black lines, and verdigris (a copper-based pigment) for the color green. Over the centuries, corrosion from the iron and copper gradually ate into the paper. Nineteenth-century binders also wreaked havoc on the manuscript with unmatched patching, while further mending in the 1930s and 1940s inadvertently caused inks and pigments to bleed.


Beginning in 1995, in the most ambitious conservation project at the Folger up to that time, conservators restored the entire manuscript, reversing the earlier repairs and strengthening the pages with an ultrathin paper developed and made at the Folger. Afterward, every page of the manuscript was also digitized, reducing the need for researchers to work directly with the still-delicate original.


Treatment of the Trevelyon Miscellany was privately funded by Eric Weinmann and B.F. Saul, distinguished friends and trustees of the Folger Shakespeare Library for more than twenty years.

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