Author Archives: Cornell University Library Conservation

About Cornell University Library Conservation

Cornell University Library Conservation is a part of the Department of Digital Scholarship and Preservation Services. The unit provides preservation guidance and conservation treatment for all Cornell Library collections.

How to cut off your head and lay it on a platter.

Don’t Lose Your Head!

by Michele Brown

An oldie, but goodie: “to cut off one’s head, and to laie it in a platter, which the iugglers call the decollation of Iohn Baptist” from The discouerie of withcraft [The discovery of witchcraft] by Reginald Scott. This wonderful work argues against the existence of witchcraft and includes descriptions of popular jugglers’ tricks. Look for the 1665 edition in the “ Skeptics and Dissenters ” case in the Witchcraft exhibit now in the Hirshland Gallery of the Carl A. Kroch Library. Cornell’s Witchcraft Collection also includes a copy of the 1584 edition.

Produced by different printers 80 years apart, there are interesting variations in the illustrations of these 2 editions.

Reginald Scott, 1584.

To cut off ones head, and to laie it in a platter, 1584

Reginald Scott, 1665.

To cut off ones Head, and to Lay it in a platter, 1665.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The typography of the the title pages is also very dissimilar.

Title page, 1584.

 

 

Title page, 1665.

The 1584 edition is notably smaller. It appears to have been severely chopped–possibly during the rebinding process. It’s unlikely that the current binding is its first.

Our curators prefer minimal intervention and have asked us to retain evidence of previous repairs and other signs of use. These 2 volumes  provided different treatment challenges.

The 1584 edition came into the lab in 2016. It had been rebacked with calfskin at some point in its history, and this repair was showing signs of fragility. The inner joints were cracked, the head and tail caps were worn, 2 corners were worn, and there were losses on the spine, but the boards were still attached. The repair was still doing its job, but needed to be revitalized.

 

1584. Front, inner joint, before treatment.

1584. Front board, before treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1584. Spine before treatment.

The 1665 edition came into the lab because it was selected for the current Witchcraft exhibit. At some point, it  had been rebacked with sheepskin. What appears to be the original spine label had been retained. New endsheets had been added and pasted over the original pastedowns–probably as part of the repair. The outer and  inner joints were broken and the boards were detached. The sheepskin spine was dessicated and its top layer was peeling off. This repair was no longer effective.

1665. Front board, before treatment.

 

 

1665.  Front inner joint, before treatment.

 

 

 

 

1665. Spine, before treatment.

In both cases, we retained evidence of the previous repairs, but the 1665 edition required more intervention.

Treatment of the 1584 edition:

We filled losses and reinforced the weak inner joints using various Japanese tissues applied with wheat starch paste. The loss on the spine was repaired with layers of Kitikata and pure kozo Moriki tissue; the headcap and 2 board corners were reinforced with Moriki, and the inner joints were covered with Sekishu. Essentially, we repaired the repairs.

 

1584. Front, after treatment.

1584.  Front inner joint, after treatment.

1584. Spine, after treatment.

Treatment of the 1665 edition:

Since the boards  were detached, we opted to reback this volume with leather. We chose fair goatskin from J. Hewit because that leather is of good quality and  looks similar to sheepskin. We repaired the “new” endpapers. The spine from the previous repair was too deteriorated to use (that would have been preferred), but we retained the spine label and added blind tooling to mimic the previous rebacking.

If a leather binding needs to be completely rebacked, we will generally use leather as the repair material. To facilitate reversibility, we line the spine with Japanese or Korean tissue using wheat starch paste before adding a lining of unbleached cotton.  Strength is added to the joints by extending this cotton lining onto the boards.

Our protocol for leather rebacking is quite similar to that described in James Reid-Cunningham’s  workshop in leather rebacking at the Guild of Book Workers 2013 Standards of Excellence.

1665. Front inner joint, after treatment.

1665.  Front, after treatment.

1665. Spine, after treatment.

There was a time when we might have tried to remove the earlier repairs before adding our newer, “better” treatments. Now, as we focus on maintaining the history of use of our collections, we retain these repairs and work around them.

Descriptions of the “decollation of John Baptist” and other tricks (“thrust a bodkin into your Head, and through your Tongue &c.”) are in Book XIII, Chapter XXXIV. Both editions of The Discovery of Witchcraft, may be viewed  through Early English Books Online via the Cornell catalog.

 

 

 

 

Conservation treatment of Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio

by Michele Brown

Cornell University Library is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a series of digital vignettes highlighting Cornell’s Shakespeare collection. Earlier this year, the Fourth Folio came to the conservation lab for treatment and evaluation.

The title page, before repair.

The title page, before repairing the binding.

The binding on Cornell’s Fourth Folio appears to be contemporary with its 1685 printing date. It is a full calfskin binding with a gilt spine.The leather is tightly adhered to the back of the book (this is known as a tight back). When it came into the lab, the front board was detached, the back board was weakly attached, and a large piece of covering was missing from the back board. The tailband was mostly missing, with the core being held on with a few loops. The corners were worn with some losses. It had been previously repaired.

The front board of Shakespeare's Fourth folio, before treatment. The tailband is hanging off.

The front board of Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio, before treatment. Notice how the tailband is hanging off.

The tight bond between the original leather spine and the back of the book  created difficulties for repairing the binding. Usually, when a book is rebacked  the original spine is removed, the back is lined with cloth over  tissue for strength and reversibility, and a new spine made from material similar to the original spine is applied. The original spine would then be stuck on over the new spine. The result is a book with reinforced sewing, new materials in all the areas that take the most stress, and yet with all of its original components retained.

The previous repair leather was applied only to the joints and head and tail caps, indicating perhaps, that the conservator had experienced difficulty removing the original  spine.

The spine of the Fourth Folio, before treatment.

The spine of the Fourth Folio, before treatment. The repair leather is visible at the edges and head of the spine.

Since the spine of a tight back binding is adhered directly to the pages of the book, it is not always possible to remove the spine without damaging it or the pages. When a book is historically significant with a contemporary binding, it is important to retain as many of its original components as possible. That is the case with our copy of the 4th Folio. We can tell our copy was previously repaired not only by the “new”  leather on the outside joints, but also by the treatment of the first few pages and the inner joints.  We don’t know when the earlier repair was done, but the repair leather had deteriorated and needed to be replaced. The front board had become detached and needed to be reattached.

I tried lifting the original spine after first facing it with Hanji paper using methyl cellulose paste as the adhesive. I was able to remove the second panel (containing the title label), and the tail panel, but could only lift the edges of the rest of the spine. The edges of the boards, both inside and outside, were easily lifted.

Once the leather was removed from the second and last panels, these areas were first lined with usu mino tissue using wheat starch paste, and then with unbleached cotton stretch cloth (from Gane Bros) using pva. The stretch cloth was cut wide enough to stretch over onto the boards under the lifted leather. A lining of Conservation Wove paper (from Katie Macgregor), using pva, made for a nice smooth surface on these 2 panels.

Ideally, all of the panels would receive this kind of reinforcement, but the spine adhesion was tenacious. How could I add strength to my repair? I decided to use joint tacketing on the front board. Joint tacketing consists of drilling  several holes into the joint, angled so they come out on the shoulder of the spine. Two corresponding holes for each tacket are drilled into the board. Linen thread is passed through the joint to the spine and secured with a loop. The tails pass through the holes in the board.  A square knot is tied to hold the threads in place. This holds the board to the spine in a way that is similar to its original attachment. The joint tacketing link above provides a detailed description of the procedure.

Before drilling the holes, a strip of Hanji paper was attached to the inside shoulder, one edge aligning with the shoulder, the rest extending towards the fore edge. This would be folded up over the linen thread loops towards the end of the treatment. Then, holes at 5 stations  were drilled into the joint and 2 per each station were drilled into the board. At each station, the thread was passed through the shoulder, looped, and then passed through the board and tied in a square knot.

The front joint, with tackets and the strip of Hanji tissue.

The front joint, with tackets and the strip of Hanji tissue.

This is a closer view of one of the tackets, showing the loop and square knot.

This is a closer view of one of the tackets, showing the loop and square knot.

A new tailband was woven using silk twist over the original tailband core.

The finished tailband and cap.

The finished tailband and cap.

New calfskin (from Hewit’s) was pared, dyed and attached to the second and bottom panels, extending across the spine and onto the boards. New calfskin strips were also added to the headcap and joints under the lifted spine edges and onto the boards under the lifted sides. The lifted board material was put down with wheat starch paste.

New leather attached to the joints and 2 panels.

New leather attached to the joints and 2 panels.

This is a closer view of the tacket and new leather. The spine pieces have not been replaced at this point.

This is a closer view of the tacket and new leather. The spine pieces have not been replaced yet.

The corners were repaired with dyed calfskin or colored tissue.  The Hanji strip in the front inner joint was pulled across the joint and adhered under the lifted paste-down with paste. Then, it was covered with CK color kozo. The back joint was also covered with CK color kozo. Wheat starch paste was used for these steps.

The finished front inner joint. The first few pages also had minor repairs.

The finished front inner joint. Losses on the fly leaf were replaced with color kozo from Hiromi, using paste.

The lifted spine panels and edges of the spine were re-attached using wheat starch paste. This hid the tacketing threads on the shoulder. The corners were repaired with dyed calfskin and toned kozo. The loss on the back board was patched with dyed calfskin.

The front board of the finished repair.

The front board of the finished repair.

The finished spine, with the original pieces reattached.

The finished spine, with the original pieces reattached.

As a result of this treatment, the book is much stronger and more easily handled. If the repair leather fails, the tackets should help keep the front board attached. The cloth liners across the 2 panels that were lifted will also provide extra support.

One of our goals in the conservation lab is to make the physical collections accessible for study and analysis. Here’s hoping that readers of Shakespeare will be able to enjoy Cornell’s copy of the Fourth Folio for another 400 years!

 

 

Luce preservation training, part 2.

by Michele Brown

The next phase of the Luce intern training program has begun. Chen Zhimei from Xiamen University and Zhang Chunmei from Fudan University recently finished four weeks of basic preservation training with our department.

Book repair

Zhimei (left) and Chunmei learning book repair.

The first grant provided training to librarians from 4 institutions in Beijing: the Chinese Agricultural Library, Renmin University, Peking University and Tsinghua University. The new grant targets the preservation needs of  libraries in other areas of mainland China and Taiwan: Fudan University, Xiamen University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, National Taiwan University, Nanjing Agricultural University, National Chengchi University, Jilin University and Wuhan University.

The purpose of the training is to acquaint librarians in Mainland China and Taiwan with preservation techniques for their growing collections of Western-style bindings. We focus on the repair of circulating books. Other topics covered are: care and handling of library materials, exhibit support construction, simple enclosures, mold mitigation/ remediation, and disaster training.

We began by making blank books using Coptic sewing and case binding construction. Making a blank book is a good way to get acquainted with the materials and construction of many mass-produced, Western style books. We used Canapetta cloth for the spines and Iris Nevins marbled paper for the sides.

Testing grain direction.

Testing grain direction.

Link-stitch sewing.

Link-stitch sewing.

Finished books.

Finished books.

After discussing the history of Western bookbinding we visited the Rare and Manuscripts Collection where Curator Laurent Ferri showed some  unique examples of Cornell’s rare books.

Visiting the Kroch Rare and Manuscripts Collection.

Visiting the Kroch Rare and Manuscripts Collection.

Then, we moved on to repairing circulating books. The methods we use have been designed for quick, yet strong repair of books that circulate outside of the library. Depending on the damage, we categorize book repair as “partial”, “half” or “full.”  Here is a slideshow showing full book repair.

Chunmei reconstructs the cover of a damaged book.

Chunmei reconstructs the cover of a damaged book.

Zhimei has just put down the new cloth joint of this book.

Zhimei has just put down the new cloth joint of this book.

Simple enclosures can provide low-cost, effective protection for vulnerable materials so Zhimei and Chunmei learned how to make MM (marginal materials) cases, sometimes known as phase boxes, out of 20 pt. folder stock.

Making an MM case.

Making an MM case.

We learned from previous interns that libraries in China have a lot of paperback and glue bindings, so we explored stiffening and glue binding techniques.

We rehearsed disaster response and salvage and discussed how to make an effective disaster plan.

Drying wet books.

Drying wet books.

During the final week, they met with Michele Hamill and Jill Iacchei to get an overview of how to care for flat materials and photographs. We also visited the Syracuse University preservation department to see how another institution handles book repair.

We concluded  by reviewing materials and vendors for archival supplies. Zhimei and Chunmei made book models with cutaways that showed some of the techniques they learned.

Zhimei (left) and Chunmei are holding their book models.

Zhimei  and Chunmei with their book models.

Zhimei and Chunmei returned to China at the beginning of June. They have plans to set up preservation operations in their own libraries. We had a great time and hope to see them again. In September we will have interns from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the National Taiwan University.

 

 

 

Preservation Week 2015: Ways to save your stuff.

by Michele Brown

Last week, Tre Berney provided an excellent summary of AV preservation and related issues. What about books, papers, photographs and other memorabilia you’d like to save and pass along? Here are some resources to help you preserve  your collections.

First, the Cornell Library Conservation website offers many resources to individuals and libraries.

Our  recently revised Preservation and Conservation tutorial for China, which was developed as part of the Luce grant, provides a broad survey of techniques for the preservation of all types of library materials.

One useful tool for protecting fragile books is the marginal materials (MM) case. The tutorial includes a slideshow that describes how to make this simple, but effective container. Written instructions for this and other techniques are included in our repair guides.

Providing a good environment for your materials is the first step in preserving them. The Image Permanence Institute offers numerous resources on ways to understand and control the environment in your home or institution. Watch the video on the effect of humidity fluctuation on a rare book!

Would you like to download leaflets that advise you on the care of your collection and give recommendations for disaster recovery? The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) has a series of  preservation leaflets that cover a wide range of topics.

Finally, the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) offers a series of  preservation webinars.

These are just a few of the many resources available to help us save our stuff so we can pass it on. Happy Preservation Week 2015!

 

 

Parchment-making

by Michele Brown

Parchment is a tough, long-lasting writing and book covering material used historically for important documents and still used for the transcription of some religious and government laws. Consequently, Cornell’s copy of the 13th Amendment was written on parchment. My previous post described its conservation treatment.

Legend has it that parchment was developed in the kingdom of Pergamon during the second century BC  as a result of a shortage of papyrus. (1) Scholars disagree on the reason for the shortage of papyrus, but it is widely accepted that parchment production was first refined in Pergamon, which became parchment’s namesake. Parchment-making has remained largely unchanged since its early beginnings.

Sometimes the term “vellum” is used for parchment.  Vellum, to be precise, is parchment made from calfskin. The terms parchment and vellum are now often used interchangeably.

How does parchment differ from leather since they are both made from animal skins?

Most leather is made from animal skin that has been treated with tannin. This changes the collagen of the skin so that it will be more durable. Since tannins are acidic, leather is also an acidic material.

Leather is usually dyed during the tanning process.

Leather is usually dyed during the tanning process.

Some skins are tawed rather than tanned. Very early books bound in Europe were often bound with alum-tawed leather. We will discuss tawed leather in another post.

Parchment is made by soaking an animal skin (usually from a goat, sheep or calf) in lime and then stretching it on a frame, scraping it to remove excess tissue and allowing it to dry under tension. During this process, the collagen of the skin is rearranged, but not chemically altered. The result is a material that is very smooth and hard, and also very sensitive to changes in humidity. Since it has been soaked in a solution with a high pH, it is basic.

A skin of parchment stretched on a frame.

A skin of parchment stretched on a frame.

Pergamena has been making leather and parchment for generations and has offered parchment-making workshops. The following images are from one of their workshops.

Skins arrive with their fur still intact. They have been salted to preserve them.

Skins waiting for processing.

Skins waiting for processing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, they  are “de-haired”.

Skins are put into the dehairing barrel with a solution of lime.

Skins are put into the de-hairing barrel with a solution of lime.

And then allowed to drain.

The skins are allowed to drain after being limed.

The skins are allowed to drain after being de-haired.

Excess flesh is removed, in this case, using a fleshing machine. Traditionally, they would have used a two handled knife.

Jesse Meyer pulling a dehaired skin through the fleshing machine.

Jesse Meyer pulling a de-haired skin through the fleshing machine.

On this day, we were making colored goatskin parchment so at this point the skins were dyed.

Dyed goatskin parchment.

Dyed goatskin parchment.

And then, clipped to a frame to dry under tension.

Goatskin parchment drying. The screen allows airflow on both sides of the skin.

These are skins of dyed goatskin parchment drying under tension. The screen allows airflow on both sides of the skins.

The skins for calfskin parchment were treated differently. Since they weren’t being dyed, they were allowed to dry and were re-hydrated before being stretched for scraping.

Dried calfskins after dehairing and fleshing.

Dried calfskins after de-hairing and fleshing.

The dried skins would be re-hydrated and then stretched and clipped.

The dried skins are re-hydrated and then stretched and clipped before scraping.

Once the skins were stretched and clipped, they were scraped to make them thinner. Parchment-makers use a curved knife called a lunellum for this purpose.

lunellum

A lunellum.

 

Scraping the flesh side of the skin.

Scraping the flesh side of the skin.

The skins may be sanded after scraping.

Sanding with a rotary sander.

Sanding with a rotary sander.

Once the skin has been scraped so it is thin and even, it can be used for writing or binding.

Thirteenth amendment.

Thirteenth amendment.

Galileo's Discorsi bound in Pergamena parchment.

Galileo’s Discorsi bound in Pergamena parchment.

Parchment can be difficult to work with because it has a hard surface and, depending on its thickness, can be somewhat inflexible. It is extremely sensitive to changes in humidity and using adhesives can be problematic. However, it is a beautiful and resilient material and with good care will last for centuries.

 

(1)  In Natural History, Book XIII, Pliny ascribes the cause of the papyrus shortage to the rivalry between King Ptolemy V, who was building the library of Alexandria and King Eumenes II, who was building the library at Pergamon. Some sources say that King Ptolemy cut off the papyrus supply to Pergamon, forcing it to come up with an alternative source of writing material.

 

Re-housing the Thirteenth Amendment

by Michele Brown

The 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude was formally passed by Congress on January 31, 1865 and ratified by the states December 6, 1865.(1) Cornell University Library owns one of the 15 copies signed by Lincoln.  Cornell’s copy of the 13th Amendment is a “Congressional copy” and was donated to the University by the Nicholas H. Noyes family in the 1950s.

Like other important documents, the 13th Amendment is written on parchment. Parchment is a writing material made from animal skin that’s been dehaired, soaked in lime, scraped and stretched. We will have another post specifically about parchment production.  Some types of paper are also referred to as parchment, but it would be more accurate to describe them as “parchment-like.” See here for descriptions of parchment, vellum and parchment paper. Parchment has long been used for important documents because it is considered to be the most permanent and stable writing material.

2014 was an eventful year for Cornell’s copy of this important document. In April, it was removed from its 20th century frame and scanned using hyperspectral imaging.

This gave us an excuse to examine the matting and framing materials supporting our copy of the 13th Amendment. Cornell’s copy is housed in an elaborately carved wooden frame. A decorative headpiece with the words  “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land, and unto all the inhabitants thereof” was attached to the document at some point. From the label on the back of the frame we assume the document was put into this frame in 1938 by Beard Art Galleries.

We were concerned that the document seemed to be unnaturally flat within the frame and we wondered how it had been attached to the backing board.

Framed copy of the 13th Amendment.

Cornell’s framed copy of the 13th Amendment, before removal.

 

Label from Beard's Galleries.

Label from Beard’s Galleries.

After the framed document was brought into the Conservation Lab, the hanging hardware was removed and the paper covering the back of the frame was lifted off.

Removing hardware from the back.

Removing hardware from the back.

011_Liner off

The paper liner on the back of the frame was removed.

We could see the document and its matting were sealed in a package that was held in the frame with nails. The nails were removed and the package was lifted out of the frame.

The matting and the document were sealed together with paper tape.

The matting and the document were sealed together with paper tape.

The document and matting were sealed together with brown paper packing tape, which was removed mechanically. We discovered that the decorative mat was glued lightly to the window mat below it.

The glued paper tape was removed mechanically.

The glued paper tape was removed mechanically.

The document had been taped to the backing board with the same brown paper tape. This tape was also removed mechanically.

The document was taped to the backing board.

The document was taped to the backing board.

Now, we could see that the document was stuck directly to the backing board. This was a common method for controlling parchment, but it is not good for the document. Parchment needs to be able to respond to changes in humidity. If it is constrained too tightly while experiencing changes in humidity, it may split. Fortunately, it was easily lifted off the backing board, although first we had to remove the staples!

Staples had been used to hold the document to the backing board.

Staples had been used to help hold the document to the backing board.

When the document was free of the backing board we could see that it wanted to curl. We could also see that the headpiece was cut from thinner parchment than the document itself.

The document started to curl once it was lifted off the backing board.

The document started to curl once it was lifted off the backing board.

There was a residue of glued paper tape around the edges of the document and the headpiece. This residue was removed mechanically and by lightly rubbing with damp cotton.

In order to humidify and flatten the document, we decided to separate the two pieces.

The headpiece was separated from the document using a Teflon folder.

The headpiece was separated from the document using a Teflon folder.

After humidifying each piece, we dried them on a suction table before putting them between boards.

We used the suction table to flatten each piece after humidification.

We used the suction table to flatten each piece after humidification.

They were allowed to dry for several weeks and then were reattached using hot gelatin.

Now, we had to decide how to re-mat the document.

For the reasons stated above, we did not want to re-attach the document directly to the backing board. Instead, parchment documents are often attached to the backing board of a mat by using pieces of string that have been attached to the document and which are then wrapped around to the back. After careful consideration we decided to instead use strips of Japanese tissue.  This method was described by Nicholas Pickwoad in The Paper Conservator (2). The tissue strips were attached to the back of the document using stiff wheat starch paste and then attached to the back of the board. This will allow the document  to expand and contract as needed due to changes in the relative humidity. If the humidity becomes too low, the paper strips will break rather than the parchment itself splitting. We decided to use usumino (thick) tissue from Hiromi Paper for the strips.

We constructed a new backing board by laminating 3 layers of archival mat board cross-grained, with the short grain piece in the middle and using wheat starch paste as the adhesive.

Because the humidity in the conservation lab was relatively low, we moved the the document to the Kroch vault to attach the document to the backing board. The vault has a better humidity for parchment and it is where the document will spend most of its time. This allowed us to apply tension to the strips while the parchment was in a relaxed state.

052_Doc with strips

The Japanese paper strips were added to the back of the document.

 

The shows the headpiece with the strips attached to the back.

The shows the headpiece with the strips attached to the back.

The back of the backing board.

The back of the backing board with the strips attached.

The front of the document.

The front of the document. The strips attached to the back of the document, but not to the front of the board.

Ariel Ecklund of Corners Gallery in Ithaca cut a new window mat from archival mat board and then reassembled the document with its new mat and its original decorative mat back into the frame. She replaced the 1930’s glass with museum glass. She added thickness to the original frame to provide better attachment for the framing points.

Increasing the thickness of the back of the frame.

Increasing the thickness of the back of the frame.

The document  doesn’t look as flat as it did before, but it is now surrounded by acid-free, archival materials and it can flex as necessary.

In its new frame.

In its new frame.

The Thirteenth Amendment is part of the new exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln’s Unfinished Work”, which will be in the Kroch Library from January 26, 2015 until September 30, 2015. The original copy of the Thirteenth Amendment will be on display at selected times. Check the the library website for those dates.

 

(1) Library of Congress. Thirteenth Amendment. Retrieved from  http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/13thamendment.html

(2) Pickwoad, Nicholas. (1992). “Alternative Methods of Mounting Parchment for Framing and Exhibition”. The Paper Conservator. 16(1), pp. 78-85.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery solved

by Michele Brown

Recently, “Ask a Librarian” received the following query:

“Hi, I have a question about the 1579 edition of Hill’s “profitable instruction of the perfite ordering of bees”, which is your “SF523 .H996 Phillips Beekeeping Collection”.

Over at Distributed Proofreaders we are trying to create a free e-book of this for Project Gutenberg.

We started with the scans from the Internet Archive / Biodiversity Heritage Library, which are of your copy. Your catalog entry says “56 [i.e.57] p. 19 cm.” My problem is that on the last page (the second 56) it has a catchword, and you can see the bleed through from the printing on the verso! So there have to be more pages. Plus, the table of contents says the second treatise has 8 (viij) chapters, and the last page is the end of chapter four.

If the whole of signature Kk was missing I could understand it, but the recto of at least the first leaf is there, so the verso has to be there too!

So I am asking for two things. Firstly, can someone look at the second page 56, signature Kk, and confirm that it continues on from there (I would assume for a full quarto signature).

Secondly, is there any way I can get images of the remaining pages, either by you rescanning it for the Biodiversity Heritage Library or by you sending me images directly?

I think you have the only copy of this that is complete (the British Library copy being shorter than yours) so I do not have a plan B here. Thanks in advance, Neil. “

Since this book is held in Mann Library Special Collections, the query went to Linda Stewart, Life Sciences Bibliographer and Special Collections Librarian. Linda then contacted the Conservation Lab.

Although the book in question was printed in 1579, it had a library-style binding typical of the 20th century. The verso of the last page had a blank leaf stuck to it that appeared to be covering up text. This blank leaf matched the paper throughout the book, not the endpapers of the new binding.

Cloth binding added by a commercial binder, probably in the 20th century.

Cloth binding added by a commercial binder, probably in the 20th century.

The title page.

 

The last page has a catchword, implying there is more to follow.

The last page has a catchword, implying there is more to follow.

 

A blank page has been pasted to the verso of the previous page.

But, there is no more text. A blank page has been pasted to the verso of the last page.

We tried to see the obscured text by placing a light sheet behind the laminated page, but this was unsuccessful.

Since we were  unable to read what might be behind the pasted blank sheet, we decided to disbind the book and soak the last page in filtered water in order to separate the layers.

First we removed the commercial binding; then we cleaned the spine with a wheat starch paste poultice. This gave us an opportunity to see the steps involved in the previous binding process.

Binders often used waste-paper in the bindery to construct spine linings.

Binders often used bindery waste  to construct spine linings.

We used a wheat starch paste poultice to remove the old lining.

We used a wheat starch paste poultice to remove the old linings.

Under the paper linings, we discovered a cloth lining.

Spines are often lined in coarsely woven cloth for strength.

Spines are often lined in coarsely woven cloth for strength.

We could see that the new binding was put over the leather spine of an earlier binding.  The book was oversewn before rebinding it.

We can see the remnants of the spine of the earlier binding under the new oversewing added by the commercial binder.

Remnants of an earlier leather spine with a gold tooled title.

The book had originally been sewn on three cords.

Removing all of the linings reveals the original sewing structure.

Removing all of the linings reveals the original sewing structure.

The sections are held together by thread passing through the center of each section.

The sections are held together by thread passing through the center of each section.

 

Once the spine was clean, we separated the book into sections.

The sewing thread was cut and the sections were carefully separated.

The sewing thread was cut and the sections were carefully separated.

The book, separated into sections.

The book, separated into sections.

Finally, we were ready to separate the last page from the blank page that was pasted to it.

The last page was soaked in a bath of filtered water.

The last page was soaked in a bath of filtered water.

The blank page was teased off gently while both pages were still wet.

 

The blank page came off easily and we discovered that the printing on the verso has nothing to do with the rest of the book. We can also see the instructions “Paste over this” written with what appears to be iron gall ink at the top of the page.

The printing on the verso is revealed.

The printing on the verso is revealed.

How did this happen?

Thomas Hyll died around 1576; his books were reprinted several times. Could there have been some confusion in the print shop when this book was re- printed in 1579? Perhaps an examination of all of his work would show us exactly which book the verso printing belongs to.

Meanwhile, what is the next chapter for this book? The sections will be repaired. It will then be resewn and  rebound in binding more sympathetic to its time. It will also receive a new custom-made clamshell box and then it will be returned to the E.F. Phillips Beekeeping Collection where it will remain available for scholars for decades to come.

 

 

 

Caring for your collections: tips from Preservation Week

by Michele Brown

During Preservation Week (April 27 – May 3) we posted tips for preserving your home collections on Facebook.

The best thing you can do for your materials is to provide them with a good environment. This means maintaining low temperature and moderate humidity and storing them away from light on properly sized book shelves (for books) or in archival folders and boxes (for photos and manuscripts). Careful handling is also important.

Preservation Tip #1: Keep the humidity at 50% RH or below, but above 30% RH. High humidity promotes mold growth; humidity that is too low may cause some materials to become brittle. Avoid storing your materials in  basement and attic spaces.

Preservation  Tip #2: Maintain a low temperature (below 70 F) in the areas where your materials are stored. Check out the Dew Point Calculator at the Image Permanence Institute’s site and learn more about how temperature and humidity affect your collection.

Preservation  Tip #3: Protect your materials from light. Light exposure causes fading and discoloration.

Preservation Tip #4: Use archival enclosures to organize and protect documents and photographs.

Preservation Tip #5: Do not fold down corners, use sticky notes or paper clips to mark your place. Instead, use strips of acid-free paper.

Preservation Tip #6: Keep food and drink away from your collections. Food and drink can damage materials and will attract insects and other pests to your collection.

Preservation Tip #7: Keep your materials free from dust by cleaning them periodically with microfiber dust cloths or a HEPA vacuum. Dust can be abrasive and disfiguring and also contains mold spores.

Preservation Week: Pass it on

by Michele Brown

Preservation Week was created in 2010 by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), to promote preservation of our library collections.

Libraries all over the country have scheduled preservation events for this week (April 27-May 3). Free webinars and webcasts are available at the ALCTS Preservation Week website.

The Cornell Conservation Lab is celebrating Preservation Week by posting preservation tips on Facebook throughout the week. These tips will be summarized in a blog post next week.

Preservation tips and profiles of our conservators, Michele Brown and Michele Hamill are also being shown on our electronic sign at the Olin Library Circulation Desk.

Join us next week for a summary of our tips for preserving your collection.

Speaking of Sex

by Michele Brown

The Conservation Unit has been busy treating a variety of materials for Speaking of Sex, the new exhibit opening  February 14 in the Hirshland Exhibition Gallery of the Carl A. Kroch Library. The exhibit celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Human Sexuality Collection. Brenda Marston, Curator of the Human Sexuality Collection, describes the importance of the collection:  “A quarter of a century ago, the Library began to gather rare books, letters, photographs and original artwork, films, erotica, and all sorts of ephemera related to sexuality — much of which was ignored or shunned by academia and society at large.” The exhibit includes items from the original Mariposa archive and some recent additions.

Examples of the many different editions of The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall are included in the exhibit. Most of these are in excellent condition except for damaged dust jackets.

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Losses and tears on each dust jacket were repaired with colored kozo  tissue and usumino tissue using wheat starch paste.  The first edition published in Paris by the Olympia Press had more extensive damage. The cloth was torn at the joints and the edges were worn away.

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It was rebacked with airplane linen that had been laminated with 100% kozo moriki tissue. The edges were repaired with colored kozo using wheat starch paste. The original spine was put back on over the new spine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among  many other unusual items needing repair were:

A box holding humorous cocktail napkins from a nudist resort: the tears in the box were repaired with colored kozo, using paste.

 

 

 

 

Album pages containing suggestive postcards: these had rusty staples holding the pages together and numerous tears. The staples were removed and the tears repaired with colored kozo using wheat starch paste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supports for the materials on display were constructed by Pat Fox and Caitlin Moore from the Conservation Unit.

Stop in and see examples the many unique materials in the Human Sexuality collection. The exhibit will be up until the fall.  Check  the Human Sexuality Collection Facebook page for regular updates.