Conservation of a Flipbook

The Smithsonian Libraries was recently gifted the flipbook Eagles in Flight. A flipbook is a grouping of still images of movement that when quickly “flipped” give the illusion of actual movement. The books reached their height of popularity  at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. This book is from a series entitled Flicker (because they are known as flickerbooks  in the UK where this title was printed) 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.

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 – 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 – The Art of Camouflage

This post was written by Vanessa Haight Smith, Head of Preservation Services.  Japanese paper is used for many applications in book and paper conservation and I often choose this material when reattaching weak or detached boards.  The practice of toning Japanese paper hinges for reattaching boards to leather bindings, promoted by conservator Don Etherington, is widely used in the field.

The Book Conservation Lab: A Brief Tour

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.

The Fix – The Art of Simple Paper Repair

Paper repair is an elusively simple repair.  Using  wheat starch paste and Japanese paper we repair tears in paper in a manner that is flexible and reversible.  The trick to a good paper repair is select the proper color and weigh of repair tissue. 

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