Saved from Staples: Treating a metal-stapled pamphlet

Pamphlets, brochures, and other publications of thin width, are often bound with metal staples. The passage of time and environmental conditions, such as high humidity, may sometimes cause staples to corrode. Rust, flaking off of the metal, can stain and damage the integrity of the surrounding paper. To help maintain the longevity of an item that has suffered this type of damage, it is best to remove the staples and effect repairs more »

The Conservation of Random Records of a Lifetime

In preparation for the December 1st, 2016 170th birthday of William Henry Holmes  we repaired several of his “Random Records of  Lifetime”. The repairs enabled the volumes to be digitization and included in the transcription project. This is volume 1 of his multi-volume memoir/scrapbook.

The Fix: Faith Congregational Church Loans Historic Pennington Pulpit Bible

Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut has a 195 year legacy that includes a noteworthy collection of historical materials, including an extensive collection of historical papers and artifacts. This collection holds  several bibles dating back to the early 19th century, the most famous being the Rev. James W. C. Pennington Bible.  A fugitive from slavery, James Pennington (1807 – 1870) became an internationally known preacher, writer, and abolitionist. He was the first more »

The Fix: Custom Protection for a Flexagon Book

Recently an Artist’s Book, from the American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library, arrived at the Conservation Lab in need of a suitable protective housing.  The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by Carolyn Shattuck is a “flexagon” book, a flexible structure made from a chain of tetrahedrons. The book can be manipulated into different shapes and has many vibrant illustrations on the various facets. (Click the Hyperlinks to explore more about this book more »

The Fix: Spine Covering Repair

Older hardcover books within the Smithsonian Libraries’ circulating collections often contain unique information which serve staff and patrons over the course of many years.  With age and use, these items sometimes begin to break along the hinges. The book cloth becomes frayed, torn, or cracked and the spine piece may separate completely from the boards. This damage necessitates a repair which will conserve and recreate the original binding structure as much as more »

Der Weltkrieg: an Adopt-a-Book Story

  A scrapbook from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology came to the book conservation lab though our Adopt-a-Book program. Through the program, patrons can adopt a book for preservation or acquisition. This unusual book is a scrapbook used to house collectible cards that were found in cigarette packets in Germany during the 1930s. The binding was stapled and difficult to open because the staples were attached to the paper about 2 cm from the spine. The staples had also begun to oxidize further endangering the brittle paper. Several of the collectible cards were missing and almost all of the cards were detached or loose. The cards had been affixed to the scrapbook with an adhesive that degraded, losing its ability to hold the cards on the pages. A further concern was that the cards had information on the back of them. While this information matched the information on the scrapbook page it was in a different script. The scrapbook pages were in Fraktur script but the cards in a modern German script. This was a more »

Caring for “The Red Man’s Rebuke”

A small book that is housed in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, was recently included in the exhibition Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations , at the National Museum of the American Indian.  The book, The Red Man’s Rebuke , was printed and distributed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago by Potawatomi Indian Simon Pokagon. Each measures about three and a more »

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