Posted by: kbenoy | March 28, 2012

Conservation of Mander Papers #1

Jon the Conservator and some of our project volunteers have been working hard to get the Mander papers ready for cataloguing. This part of the collection has been stored in very damp or even wet conditions causing the paper to become very delicate and damaged. 

Damaged papers

 

These records are generally quite dirty and dusty so the main task so far has been to start cleaning these records to prepare them for sorting and cataloguing. As the volunteers work through the records with Jon, he makes an assessment of how much work is required. Sometimes, just a gentle brush over is enough to remove the surface dirt and make the record suitable for handling.

A volunteer cleaning a letter

Other times, the records need more substantial work and this is where the volunteers hand over to Jon. In some cases basic paper repairs are required where Jon uses repair paper of a similar weight to the item being conserved to fill the gap. The repair paper adheres thermally to the records so when the area being treated is heated the repair patch sticks in place. For the repair of small tears, Jon uses lens tissue, which adheres with a small amount of paste. This sort of repair work is just used to improve the integrity of the paper and not to replace any missing text.

Letter with paper repair along the central crease

Some of the paper is now very delicate as it has been softened by the loss of gelatine in the damp conditions. This makes the paper very fluffy and delicate to touch, often in sever cases just crumbling into dust. To treat records in this state Jon encapsulates them in a polyester sleeve that is thermally bonded at the edges but in no way stuck to the record. This allows the document to be handled without further deterioration.

Encapsulated Letters

Encapsulating with this method is not the same as laminating. When a sheet is laminated the plastic is permanently affixed to both sides of the record and is irreversible and therefore never used as a conservation treatment. It is not recommended to laminate anything that you would like to keep permanently.

Samuel Small Mander - Trustees Ledger 1881

Other Mander records Jon has been working on include the Samuel Small Mander Trustees Ledger from 1881. So far, this volume has been cleaned and assessed and it likely to be rebound in the future, depending on other conservation work required for the project.

Jon cleaning the Samuel Small Mander - Trustees Ledger 1881

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