I hope that this first post serves as a sort of founding marker, to set out the possible directions that this blog might take.
As such, here’s a summary of the work that I’ve completed recently:
For the Library’s exhibitions of the Special Collections, the Preservation Unit is involved from very early on. After the curators make their choices on suitable books and objects, the conservator comes in to assess each item’s ability to take the strain of display. We evaluate every item’s condition, prepare supports to hold them, and install and light the room. At every stage of this preparation, our primary concern is for the book or item at hand, and its long term care.
This 1791 binding, Botanic Garden, was chosen for the latest exhibition Flowers, Fruit, and Foliage. Before it could go on display, however, the Preservation Unit had to assess and determine its physical suitability. This volume had a detached front board. Our first concern was to reattach this board to the book, using conservation and archival measures.
The first step in this process is to match the colour of the spine, using high quality acrylic paint on Japanese tissue. Japanese tissue affords strength and archival qualities that make it perfect for this job. The layers of paint are thinly applied to gradually build an appropriate tone.
Archival paste is used to adhere the joint between the spine and the front board. The primary aim of this method is to provide strength to the book structure. Conservation treatments should not impede on the mechanical or chemical qualities of an item, but should aim to be sympathetic to the structure and aesthetic of the original.
Marble paper was photographed from the inside endpapers, and inkjet printed onto an appropriate archival paper. The complex nature of marble paper designs is such, that the line between the original and copied designs is often hard to see.
See the virtual exhibition featuring this book and others here.