Posted by: kbenoy | January 18, 2012

Mouldy Mander Monday

This week we had Mouldy Mander Monday, a special day to sort through the Mander/Wilkes papers, which are in a very bad state. Before they were deposited at Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies, these records had been wet and stored in a damp location causing them to become very fragile, stuck together and damaged. Although these records are described as being mouldy, all the mould grew on the records before coming to the Archives and is now dormant and inactive due to being stored in correct archival conditions in our strong rooms. The mould on these records is more like fluff or a spider’s web and poses no threat to the rest of the holdings or the collection.

Badly damaged bank books

The image above shows some badly water damaged bank deposit books. Fortunately, these are not usually retained by archives as they offer little in the way of archival information that cannot be found elsewhere.
 
This collection contains records including correspondence and volumes. Some of the correspondence was still in original envelopes, which could look bad on the outside but had helped to protect the letters on the inside.
 

Letters in envelopes

 
The volumes were similarly affected with the covers showing very bad deterioration with the pages still in fairly good condition. This shows how important it is for records to be properly packaged and protected from the elements.

Mander Investments Ledger

The page shown below is out of the same book and although watermarks and damp can clearly be seen, the text is still legible as it was protected by the cover.

Page from the index of the Mander Investments Ledger

Unfortunately, not all the records were so lucky as some had extensive water damage that had removed any trace of ink from the page. Some records had become wet, causing them to fuse together and become very brittle.

Fused and brittle paper

 
There is very little that can be done for paper as badly damaged as shown above. It is not possible to separate what used to be individual sheets of paper and as in this case, the whole section can crack due to its brittle nature. There is no way to know what this bundle of papers once was and in this state it cannot add anything to archive collection but dust.

We have been lucky to be able to save over two thirds of the records we went through. Many of the records that were not saved contained little to no archival value and despite their state would have not been kept in the collection.

The majority of the records saved will need substantial conservation work, consisting at least of cleaning and repacking. This will begin next week as Jon the conservator and some volunteers start to work through the 21 boxes of dusty, flaky, mouldy Mander papers.

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