LGLL Rare26 17-0100, printed book (French, 1553)

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Rare book in Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale University, Rare26 17-0100.

Book title: “INSTITUTIONUM Ciuilium libri quatuor, una cum Accursij”.

This book was printed in Paris in 1553 by C. Cuillard. Apparently, it was rebound sometime after that as can be deduced by irregularities in the page margins, particularly at the tops of pages.

The book is unusual in that all of the text pages (about 440 pages; or 220 individual leaves) are a yellow-brown color. This, and marks throughout the book where water (or some liquid) was spilled on the pages, suggests that the pages were colored by a water-soluble dye of some sort, probably when the pages were unbound, because the color is very uniform. The end-pages were uncolored.

Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale University, Rare26 17-0100, Photo by R. A. Laursen

Summary of results

Detail of the gilded altar door. image adopted from reference [1] with author's permission

A sample of the colorant was extracted from the watermark at the bottom of column 210. A piece of Whatman 3MM filter paper (3 mm x 20 mm) was affixed to the back of the watermark (on column 211) with a paper clip. About 15 microliters of water was applied to one edge of the water mark and was allowed to soak through onto the filter paper. After the filter paper had dried, the darker parts of it (containing most of the extract) were extracted with about 150 microliters of methanol-water (1:1).

Twenty microliters of the above extract was analyzed on a High Performance Liquid Chromatography system having diode array and mass detectors (HPLC-DAD-MSD), with detection in the positive ion mode, which allows for detection of positively charged fragments of the dye molecules.

HPLC profile

Absorbance at 350nm (mAU). analyzed by X. Zhang [1]

Identified compounds


[1] Price, B., Malenka, S., Sutherland, K., Paul, K., Kingery, A., and Zhang, X., A Tibetan Polychrome Domestic Altar and Four Six-Panel Cabinets: Materials Analysis, Dating, and Conservation. ICOM-CC, New Delhi, India, September, 919-925 (2008).

[2] Zhang, X., Mouri C., Mikage M., and Laursen, R. A., Identification of Sources of Protoberberine -Alkaloids Used as Yellow Dyes in Asian Objects of Historical Interest. Studies in Conservation 55 177-185 (2010).