The first thing you normally do when you take a volume apart is to number all the pages in pencil, so you know exactly how everything fits together. However, in this case, there were two issues preventing me from doing that: turning over the pages to number them risked destroying some of the damaged areas and at some point someone else had gone through the volume and numbered it in pencil in the top right corner of each page. Great, you might think: just use the existing numbering and go ahead! Unfortunately, relying on someone else’s numbering is never a good idea, as they may have made mistakes and they may not have numbered all the pages you need to be numbered before taking a volume apart. All volumes (whether they are hand-written manuscript volumes or printed books) are bound with endleaves at the front and the back. The first and last page of these blank sheets are stuck to the boards and help hold the binding together – no one ever counts these endleaves when counting the number of pages of a book and equally no one ever numbers these. Except for conservators, who need to know exactly how each page relates to every other page. In this case, as you can see, the front endleaf has become detached from the board, showing more details of the binding, whereas the back endleaf is still in place and has been written on.
To avoid confusion and prevent further damage I have decided not to add any additional numbering, but to number the endleaves with roman numerals as I take the volume apart and hope the old numbering will be reasonably accurate. As always when taking a volume apart I will be keeping detailed notes of how all the pages fit together, so if there are issues with the old numbering I can keep a record of those and still fit everything back together as it should be.