Monday, August 1, 2011

Next Up

My next treatment is Palladio's "I quattro libri dell'architettura di Andrea Palladio" which was published in Venice in 1581.  Quite a bit has happened to this book since it first came off the press.  It has had at least four owners judging by the bookplates and inscription on the front paste down and fly leaf.  It has been re-bound at least twice judging from the number of different endpapers attached to the text block; and it has been heavily used for reference given the "thumb stains" on the fore edge margins. There are scribbles of sums on a few of the pages and a few doodles as well.
the four books, dis-bound with their boards
There were several attempts to re-attach the boards with various kinds of tape (all failed).  That said, it is a pretty straight forward treatment.  The binding was in horrible shape, the sewing was broken in several places, the front board was completely detached and many of the pages were broken at the gutter margin.   
So, nothing to do but finish taking the book apart so that it can be cleaned, mended and re-bound.  Once the treatment plan was approved by the Head of Special Collections, I went ahead with the dis-binding, carefully noting where the page numbers had been mis-printed and whether any signature marks or catch words had also been mis-printed. 

Next, dry cleaning to pick up as much loose dirt as possible, and then into the water!  I washed each book separately since there were too many pages to do in one session.  Most of the books needed multiple baths
first bath on the left, second bath on the right

before the paper stopped releasing dirt into the water.  The first bath for this book was at pH 5.5 after a half hour soak which is somewhat acidic, but after three baths the water stayed clear, and then the pages went into a final alkaline bath to impart a little bit of an alkaline reserve in the paper.  It still amazes me how the water changes color so dramatically, and the paper actually looks cleaner and brighter once it dries. 

This book needs to be on exhibit at the end of the month, so stay tuned for more conservation treatment action!!


Amanda said...

I love your blog! And as I am fairly new to conservation I was wondering if you could share with me what you are using to soak the pages in? It seems very backwards to put paper in water lol :)

atthebench said...

The paper is indeed soaking in a bath of water. In this case the water has been de-ionized, which makes it very pure, but you can soak old paper in regular water and still leach out dirt and acidic residue. If you have an old broken book or piece of printed paper, you can try it at home and see for yourself. It can be tricky to pick up paper when it is wet, so be careful when handling. :)