The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Conservation

Building a Replica of the John Wilkes Booth Diary

Guest Post by Folger conservator Austin Plann Curley “You can’t always get what you want.” So said the Rolling Stones in 1969. Such was the case for the Folger Shakespeare Library in our recent request to borrow the Diary of John Wilkes Booth for our current exhibition America’s Shakespeare, which runs through July 24, 2016. Ford’s Theater keeps the diary on permanent display alongside other artifacts from the assassination.… Continue Reading

What to do about the Macro manuscripts?

We thought we had the right question. Renate Mesmer (Head of Conservation), Heather Wolfe (Curator of Manuscripts), and I invited several scholars to the Folger for a lab-based discussion on “V.a.354: What to do about the Macro Manuscripts?” Specifically, the question was whether to rebind the items, and if so, together or separately, and if together, in what order. Left to Right: Kathleen Lynch, Kellie Robertson, Theresa Coletti, Gail McMurray Gibson, Heather Wolfe, Mike Kuczynski Some history will be helpful here: three late-medieval morality plays, Wisdom, Mankind, and The Castle of Perseverance, known collectively as the Macro manuscripts, are in the Folger collection.… Continue Reading

The mystery of gridded paper

A guest post by Austin Plann Curley For a blank sheet of paper, we thought this one was pretty interesting. But before we get to what exactly it is, let’s refresh our understanding of how paper is made. Prior to the 19th century all paper was made by hand using a mold and a deckle. In the West the papermaker’s mold was a wooden frame with a woven mesh of copper wire.… Continue Reading

Taming a tight binding

You know how some old bindings gently let a book stay open on its own, at a comfortable angle? And how other old bindings seem to willfully resist, taunting you by starting to close just as you get the book weights perfectly arranged? This post introduces a simple tool that can help tame those tight bindings: a V-shaped wedge of lightweight plastic.… Continue Reading

Unwanted doodles in a Shakespeare quarto

Our new curator of early modern books and prints, Caroline Duroselle-Melish, and I were up in the conservation lab a few days ago, consulting with book conservator Adrienne Bell on the optimal opening for safely digitizing a quarto edition of Henry VI, Part 3 (STC 21006a copy 1) in preparation for our “Wonder of Will” commemoration activities next year at the Folger.… Continue Reading

Another peek into the Conservation Lab

This month, the Conservation Lab is working on items that reflect a wide range of Folger activities and holdings. Some of the most beautiful books in the Folger’s collections are those with embroidered bindings. But such books are also among the most fragile. Here, book conservator Linda Hohneke takes a pretty little copy of Edward Gee’s Steps of ascension to God acquired last year and creates new housing to protect it, a custom-made box with a “back to the basics wrapper”: preparing a custom-made box and wrapper for a fragile binding Another item being worked on is one adopted at Acquisitions Night in 2013: Charles Kean’s scrapbook, with 69 leaves and approximately 600 watercolors and 24 engravings.… Continue Reading

Making a Karibari board

In conservation, the drying or humidification of paper poses particular challenges when dimensional and visual characteristics of the original paper are to be retained. Because of this, the drying of an artifact is a key step in its treatment. There are a range of paper drying techniques from which the conservator can select and adapt in order to enhance the outcome of each treatment.… Continue Reading

A peek into the Conservation Lab

Ever wonder what the conservators are up to on our third floor? Here’s a peek into what’s happening in the Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Laboratory this month: The team is in full treatment mode for the Library’s upcoming exhibition, “Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England,” opening this summer. Before every exhibition, of course, the conservation team reviews the items to be displayed to do any necessary work to repair or stabilize them.… Continue Reading

What’s that smell? Getting personal with historic costumes

Here Is a Play Fitted is on view through January 12, 2013 The Folger’s current exhibition, Here Is a Play Fitted, takes a broad look at how Shakespeare on the stage has changed over the past 400 years. For a full look at that topic, you have until January 12, 2014 to see the exhibition—and you should! But for this blog post, I’d like to focus in on one small aspect of this exhibition about staging Shakespeare: costumes.… Continue Reading

Conserving the Cosway Portrait of Shakespeare

A guest post by Dawn Rogala Editor’s note: Folger conservators are internationally known for their expertise in book and paper conservation. When it comes to conserving paintings, though, we turn to outside experts like Dawn Rogala of Page Conservation, Inc. Here, Dawn explains how she treated the Cosway Portrait of Shakespeare. 1 All photos in this post have been provided by Page Conservation.Continue Reading

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