Decorated papers in the covers of librettos of opera

In the beginning of July of 2016 I finished my study on techniques of decorated papers of the second half of 18th century, which was presented as a final work of the Master of Direction of Projects in Conservation-Restoration at University of Barcelona.


xviii-3226t copia
A sample of decorated paper in the cover of libretto. Nº XVIII-3226, Biblioteca de Reserva of University of Barcelona (source).


During the work,  I also made few experiments on making some samples of decorated paper by myself in order to define precisely the features of traditional paper decoration techniques. I also made a reconstruction of the binding structure of a sample of libretto of opera.

I hope to continue to work on this interesting topic in other cultural and historical contexts in the very near future. Here I submbit a summary of my work in English:

“Decorated paper in the collection of librettos of opera of the University of Barcelona”


The main objective of the present study consists of the investigation and description of a collection of librettos of opera preserved in the Library of University of Barcelona (Biblioteca de Reserva de la Universitat de Barcelona). The study also makes a special focus on the techniques of manufacturing of decorated papers used in the covers of the documents. Moreover this investigation reflects on current limits of the researches made on decorated paper. Unlike most of the studies which are based on a synthetic approach embracing the whole history of paper decoration techniques, the present study provides an analytical view, combined with a perspective from book an paper conservation, applied to a particular case of the collection of librettos. The study presents a detailed description of seventy-six specimens of the collection made during individual examination of every document and it’s conditions of conservation.  A map of quantitative and qualitative information showing the structures of binding, printing processes, a typology of paper decoration techniques and pathologies of their conservation status was created, according to the results of the examination of the collection. Finally, some proposals for the better preservation are made and the description of the collection is amplified by contextualizing the types of paper decoration found in the collection through comparison with similar examples, available in other European libraries, including the same editions of librettos preserved in the Library of Catalonia (Biblioteca de Catalunya).