The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Conservation

A Conservation Intern’s Observations on STC 2608

A guest post by Kevin Cilurzo (with particular thanks to Adrienne Bell) For a conservator, to disbind and rebind a book is a rare chance to study and understand its binding structure. With broken sewing and loose detached leaves, Folger STC 2608 needed major conservation treatment before it could be safely handled by readers. Folger STC 2608 is a hybrid book combining a manuscript and a printed text.… Continue Reading

Using cardboard spacers to fill gaps on the shelf

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. This post is a tribute to the humble hunk of folded cardboard.1 Cardboard spacer filling the gap on the shelf while two large volumes are in use. All photos are by me, Erin Blake. You know how when you take a book off the shelf, you stare at the empty space for a fraction of a second, waiting to see if the books on either side stay standing-up?… Continue Reading

Stuff in Books: a conundrum

When we think of book history, most of us focus on the creation, dissemination, and reception of texts. But as many scholars have begun to discuss in the last few years, books and manuscripts ended up being used in many different ways unrelated to their status as textual objects. Once we begin to consider what purposes bound books and manuscripts might have served beyond their primary function as sources of knowledge and learning, the list gets long fairly quickly.… Continue Reading

How to Make a Librarian Panic

Co-authored by Elizabeth DeBold (Curatorial Assistant), Renate Mesmer (Head of Conservation), Austin Plann Curley (Book Conservator), and Adrienne Bell (Book Conservator). With special thanks to Kevin Cilurzo (Conservation Intern).   As some of our respondents observed in their comments on this month’s Crocodile Post, there is a strange-looking deposit on the leather of this book. The book is, as others correctly identified, one of the volumes from the Folger’s multi-volume set of Famiglie celebri Italiane…, an eighteenth-century work published in Torino, which focuses on Italian heraldry.… Continue Reading

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. 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”: 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