The Magna Carta (Great Charter) is an English charter that was originally issued in the year 1215 and then reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions. It included the most direct challenges to the monarch’s authority and first became law in 1225.

The 1297 version and the most commonly known still remains on the statute books of England and Wales.

By the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed in their original form. Three clauses remain part of the law of England and Wales. (Scotland has a different legal system.)

The Magna Carta greatly influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.

On his AOTUS blog, United States Archivist, David  Ferriero, very recently wrote about his career-long fascination and appreciation of the effort of people involved in conservation and preservation of historical documents that can be traced to his very first job in the MIT Humanities Library.

It was during his tenure at MIT  that David Ferriero learned about the special needs of vellum and leather bindings, the temperature and humidity requirements of paper and the principle of never doing anything that can’t be undone (a good rule of thumb).

He writes about his special interest and pride of his conservation staff  during their recent work on the Rubenstein Magna Carta.

In a project that was funded by the document’s owner, David Rubenstein, the expert staff provided weeks of intensive treatment to the parchment and seal and eventually uncovered previously illegible writing to the Magna Carta using ultra-violet photography.

David Rubenstein, the co-founder of the well-known private-equity firm Carlyle Group, purchase a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta, in on December 19, 2007, for $21.3 million at Sotheby’s in New York. Rubenstein served in the White House during the Carter administration.

Please click on AOTUS to read about this truly fascinating process.


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2 Comments on The Magna Carta conservation challenge

  1. Graham A. says:

    Very interesting post. Modern technology is a miracle.

  2. A. Pickering says:

    Absolutely fascinating it’s always good to hear about the wonders of modern technology.

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