Mapfre MSV Life is supporting the Notarial Archives Foundation through the sponsorship of conservation works on a number of documents of historical significance that are held at the Notarial Archives.

The sponsorship was presented by Michael Galea, chief business development officer of Mapfre MSV Life to Joan Abela, consultant historian on the EU-funded rehabilitation project, during a visit to the Notarial Archives in St Christopher Street, Valletta. Also present were chief notary to the government Keith German and head conservator Theresa Zammit Lupi.

The documents to be treated and preserved are two manuscripts dating to the 16th century. These are attributed to notary Giorgio Zelivo and both are bound with a much earlier dated recycled parchment cover containing medieval Greek Byzantine text. Such recycled manuscript covers are very rare to come across.

A unique insight into the lifestyle of Maltese society

One of them features part of a sermon by Ephrem the Syrian while the other features part of a homily of St John Chrysostom, both dating back to the 12th century. A third manuscript to be treated and conserved is a bastardello register from the records of the 18th century notary Paolo Camilleri. Due to the short supply of paper and parchment, this volume has made use of playing cards as sewing supports, a feature that is very unusual in early modern bookbinding.         

Mr Galea said: “We are delighted to support the Notarial Archives Foundation in its endeavours to preserve these historical documents. These are documents which provide a unique insight into the lifestyle of Maltese society over many centuries and constitute an important part of our heritage.”

Dr Abela thanked Mapfre MSV Life for its support and said that it was hoped that more private individuals and institutions follow in their footsteps and take part in the ‘Adopt a Notary’ scheme, which seeks to ensure that our nation’s paper heritage is preserved using the highest international conservation standards.

The conservation treatment of the documents will require surface cleaning, paper repairs, ink consolidation, flattening and cover repair among other interventions. Protective enclosures will be created to house the volumes safely and securely.

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