Welcome to our monthly preservation feature! We're calling it "The Fix". What do you think?
The Smithsonian Institution Libraries has hundreds of pamphlet bindings in its rare book collections bound during the mid to late 20th century when the long term effects of acidic bindings was not yet realized. One of these pamphlets is “Die Branchienschnecke,” an article about snails from around 1820, by Franz von Paula Gruithuisen. The pamphlet came to the Conservation Lab from the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History bound in an acidic pamphlet binder. The acid from the binder had discolored the first and last pages of the pamphlet. The paper was otherwise high quality and in good condition with one color plate. Additionally, the pamphlet has the bookplate of William Healey Dall (1845-1927), the eminent malacologist who worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and donated hundreds of rare books and publications.
Before treatment – Pamphlet cover and bookplate
Before treatment – Title page and colored plate
Due to the discoloration of the paper, the paper was washed in de-ionized water and buffered in a Calcium Carbonate solution. After drying and pressing, the pages were re-sewn and a new case was created using handmade paper. The bookplate was removed from the old acidic covers and placed in the same position on new acid-free end-papers.
After treatment – front cover and bookplate
After treatment – Title Page and Color Plate
The Smithsonian Institution Libraries has many pamphlets in need of repair. Some of these pamphlets are part of the Adopt-A-Book Program. The program provides funds for the purchase or preservation of items for or in the library’s collection.