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 »

The Fix – Manuscript Conservation

The conservation of manuscript pages can be very tricky. In the case of the McAuley Diary, from our Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, there were many issues. The manuscript consisted of multiple sized unbound sections housed together in a leather cover that was far too small for its contents. The pages were nearly all crumpled and torn and many pages had areas of loss. In this condition the text was more »

The trials and tribulations of post binding repair

The Book Conservation Lab often receives items that require new sewing or new adhesive on the text block as part of their treatment. Infrequently, an item arrives that has been bound atypically and extraordinary repair measures are needed.

The Fix – Ein Wintermärchen, an Adopt-a-Book Story

  Ein Wintermärchen (a winter story) is a children’s book from our Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Library. The library holds an extensive collection of children’s books, around 2,000, with 1,200 being pop-up books. This particular volume came to the Book Conservation Lab through the Adopt-A-Book program.     The book is lavishly illustrated by Ernst Kreidolf, a well-known Swiss children’s book illustrator. Many of his books depict fairies and other mythical creatures, more »

The Fix: Flawless Fills with Paper Pulp

On September 9-11th, Smithsonian Libraries hosted the workshop: “Using Pigment-toned Paper Pulp to Create Flawless Fills for Works of Art on Paper and Archival Material,” instructed by Margo McFarland-Rothschild, who has taught these techniques previously at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies and has her own conservation and consulting practice in the Chicago area. At Smithsonian Libraries’ Book Conservation Lab participants prepared and pigmented paper pulp to use in concert with more »

The Fix – Understanding Leather

As a book conservator for the Smithsonian Libraries I’ve been given ample opportunity to expand my knowledge through workshops, seminars and professional meetings. One of the most interesting opportunities I’ve recently had was to attend a week long workshop, “Understanding Leather: From Tannery to Collection,” in Northampton, England. The workshop was held at the Leather Conservation Centre, an international center for leather conservation and research, on the campus of the University of Northampton. The course more »

The Fix – Book Detective

When a book arrives in the Conservation Lab the first order of business is often detective work. The binding is examined to determine if it is original to the book, the paper is analyzed for clues to its origin, and scraps of paper or other ephemera enlighten us as to the provenance of the book. Recently, a particularly intriguing volume, Botanicon,  came to us from the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.

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