National Geographic : 1967 Jul
say when they will all be given new bindings. Once sorted and carefully taken apart at Fort Belvedere, the dried books were given a bath! The washing, pressing, and drying of the separated pages were done at the heating plant of the Florence railroad station-and a more unlikely place for the saving of a great library cannot be imagined. In the cavernous rooms, filled with huge boilers and jungle gyms of pipes, students stood at a bank of washbasins and submerged the old handmade pages in plain tapwater mixed with fungicide. The dried pages were apt to become brittle because the old sizing had run and gathered in puddles; the washing flushed out this old glue. The crucial factor was that the old inks and handmade papers could be washed without damage. Finally, the individual pages were flattened in a press and hung out to dry (pages 26-7). Sally Lou Smith, an American binding ex pert now living in London, was supervising the world's oddest wash. Occasionally a cloud of steam erupted from the boilers with a mighty whoosh, as the heating plant went about its normal business. Their song stilled, treasured musical instruments in the Bardini Museum lie twisted and broken. Rare large spinet of the 16th century, its sounding board cracked, rests between a cittern (right) of the same period and 18th-century instruments of the lute family. Director Ennio Regola holds the split back of an 18th-century violin. FKTACHROMF BY BALTHAZAR KORABn N.G.S.