Exchange Bank books
How about a book weighing about 26kg that's about 30cm in thickness? We have to admit: we had not seen these before! Could GMS please digitize these? And according to Metamorfoze-Light quality standards, please. What a challenge!
Some client requests make you think twice. We are used to a lot by now: bound civil registry acts, population registers, song books from the Middle Ages. A lot of types and sizes of bound and unbound material passed through the hands of our scanning operators. But books weighing about 26kg that’s about 30cm in thickness? We have to admit: we had not seen these before. Could GMS please digitize these? And according to Metamorfoze-Light quality criteria, please. What a challenge!
We are talking about the so-called exchange bank books. The collection of exchange books are among the prime exhibits held by the Amsterdam City Archive. These are books with a history dating from 1609, when the Amsterdam Exchange Bank was founded. Many big merchants had an account at the exchange bank. The books’ heavy pages were written using goose feathers.
This assignment would be a real undertaking. Our usual recording configurations can record a lot of formats. We see many thick books, but this was a different story. It was not possible to do with the usual equipment – that was clear enough. GMS, therefore, resorted to a tried and true approach that frequently worked in the past and continues to yield daily benefits. It developed its own machine in-house.
This did not go without struggles and vexations. The physical attributes of these books were very different from those of standard books. Just lifting and putting down the books was not that simple. The books are also beautifully restored, but that introduces more requirements concerning their preservation. Stability and a good support of the books was very important. Furthermore, the books could only be opened to a 90-degree angle at most. The contents of each page had to be visible, of course. The machine had to be optimally manoeuvrable and adaptable.
This was an effort, but we succeeded! We collaborated closely with the Amsterdam City Archive, primarily with their in-house restoration specialist and the Metamorfoze PR coordinator, so that in the end developed a machine that satisfied the everyone’s requirements. The machine can be specially adjusted to accommodate size, thickness, and weight of these books, and it can digitize them safely according to the Metamorfoze quality criteria. So now you know: this is the place to be if you have difficult projects!