April 21-27 is Preservation Week! In honor of this event, we will be featuring preservation-related content on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog as well as our other social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Today, we offer you a peek inside our own Book Conservation Lab!
The Preservation Services Division of the Smithsonian Libraries is committed to the preservation, safe exhibition, and long-term access to collections objects, many of which are irreplaceable. The primary mission of the Book Conservation Lab (BCL) is to treat special and general collections items needed for research, exhibition or digitization. Continue reading →
Le Document du décorateur, troisième série : fleurs stylisées. (18–?) fNK3449.D62 CHMSC
In 2011, The Cooper-Hewitt Museum National Design Library was awarded a $96,000 grant from the CCPF (Collections Care and Preservation Fund, an internal grant awarding source) of the Smithsonian Institution to conduct a condition assessment survey of approximately 4,000 items of its Special Collections. We’ve done many preservation and book housing projects over the years, with repairs and custom enclosures made when the occasion demanded, but we’ve never had the opportunity or plan in place to look at the condition of our Rare Book collection as a whole before. Continue reading →
The conservation lab is working on two printed and bound editions of comic strips that originally ran in The New York Herald at the turn of the 20th century. The books are part of the Cooper-Hewitt Library collection.
The first is Buster Brown, a strip chronicling the adventures of a naughty young boy from a wealthy family growing up in New York City. The strips feature the predicaments Buster Brown finds himself in and the strip ends the moral that Buster finds at the end of each adventure.
The second strip is Little Nemo in Slumberland, a surreal strip depicting the fantastical dreams of a little boy named Nemo. The images depict peacock drawn carriages, rabbits hatching out of eggs and giants. At the end of each strip Nemo awakens before danger befalls him.
Little Nemo in Slumberland Before Treatment
The books are both staple bound with very little of the original covers remaining. The paper is brittle and there is loss around the edges and at the staple edge due to stress. The original binding obscured the edge of the strips and caused breakage at this stress point. The challenge is to rebind the books so that they open flat and retain as much of the original covers as possible.
Buster Brown After Treatment
The solution is to take the single sheets and create sections that can be sewn into a new textblock. A new cover is created using new binder’s board covered in toned airplane linen. A frame is built around the cover enabling the original cover pieces to be inset into the new cover. This new binding opens fully so that the entire strip is visible and the cover ensures that the original cover pieces will not deteriorate further.