The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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
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. After paper conservator Rhea DeStefano spent many hours mending tattered edges and missing corners, head of conservation Renate Mesmer joined separated leaves with new Japanese paper guards so that the gatherings could be sewn back together. The treated volume will be shown off at this year’s Acq Night on February 5th. 

stabilizing Charles Kean's scrapbook
guarding separated leaves in Charles Kean’s scrapbook

Austin Plann Curley, an intern from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, has been taking care of Rebecca Winch’s mid-17th-century receipt book. This manuscript volume of cookery and medical recipes was featured at Acquisitions Night in 2013 with a list of conservation treatments available to be adopted, including repairing the paper, adding protective endleaves, resewing it onto raised cords, and reattaching the refurbished original boards. Austin’s work has helped stabilize the receipt book for future researchers:

the front cover of Rebecca Winch's receipt book before treatment
the front cover of Rebecca Winch’s receipt book before treatment
textblock and loose leaves before treatment
textblock and loose leaves before treatment
repairing paper edges
mending paper edges with solvent-set tissue
preparing the binding
preparing the sewing supports
sewing the gatherings onto cords
textblock sewn on alum-tawed supports
reattaching the binding
rebacking the leather boards

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