What is a facsimile?

checosafacsimileA facsimile book is a reproduction, faithful in every detail, of a specific volume. Unlike anastatic copies, facsimiles reproduce not only the text of the book but also all the material properties of the book as a physical object, such as the size of the pages, the weight of the leaves, the exact colour of the decorations, the materials of the binding and of the precious metals, so as to be indistinguishable from the original book as it was at the time it was photographed. This means that even the defects of the book (worm holes, damp stains, signs of use, marking, missing portions), which are all part of its history, are reproduced in the copy. The binding of the volume is done by hand and utilises materials that conform to those of the original, so as to reproduce the original. Only when all these elements are present can we speak of a facsimile edition, rather than other forms of reproduction such as an anastatic edition. In almost all cases the books reproduced are manuscripts, especially decorated ones such as the medieval and renaissance illuminated manuscripts. Over the course of time, certain publishing practices have become established regarding the production of facsimiles. The facsimile is sold together with a volume of commentary, which contains historical and artistic studies on the volume reproduced, and sometimes also a translation of the text. The publisher undertakes not only to guarantee that the facsimile is complete and conforms to the original, but also to certify the size of the limited edition (less than a thousand copies, with no possibility of a reprint) and to number each copy.

 

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