The word derives from the Latin term: fac simile = make it similar. A facsimile is the faithful reproduction (an exact copy) of a manuscript, or printed book. Faithful reproduction obviously means to display in the facsimile all visible characteristics of the original work – vibrant colours, gold and silver, but also age marks or irregularities. Facsimile books are generally published in worldwide limited editions. Facsimile editions are different, not only because of the perfect technical reproduction and craftsmanship applied to each single item, but also because they capture and convey the spirit and charisma of the original.
What is a Facsimile?
Modern facsimile printing would be unthinkable without the invention of photography, a technology which enables the objective gathering of image data.
Before a facsimile is printed, it is necessary to photograph each single page of the original manuscript. The gathered image data then undergoes a colour separation process before the first trial prints are carried out. These prints are compared with the original and corrected until the colours exactly match those of the manuscript. Once the accuracy of colour has been verified, the actual printing process can begin.
Gold played an important role in medieval manuscripts, not only because of its decorative effects but also because of its great symbolical value: gold was a sign of immortality, of the Divine Word, of wealth and power. In order to convey this in our facsimile reproductions, we use a complicated process to apply real 22 ct gold wherever the original shows gold leaf. To reproduce the aesthetic features of each original work, which usually shows signs of ageing in the gold as well, an additional working phase is needed to apply a patina to the gold.
Once the gilding is completed the printed sheets are cut to the original size and the sheets are folded. The quires are now stitched together and then bound like the original or with a contemporary binding corresponding to the time period of the manuscript. Each facsimile edition is accompanied by a scientific commentary volume explaining the manuscript and the miniatures.