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Subject: Drawings in sketchbooks

Drawings in sketchbooks

From: Gale Simplicio <gsimpli>
Date: Wednesday, March 27, 1996
We at the West Virginia University Art Collection are interested in
receiving opinions from conservators regarding the ethics of dealing
with works of art in sketchbooks. We have an extensive collection of
pen and ink, and pencil drawings by David Hunter Strother, who was
the best known illustrator in mid 19th century America. He worked
primarily for Harper's Magazine.

The collection is not only of artistic value, with portraiture and
landscapes forming the bulk of the works, but parts of it are of
great historical value as well. For instance, many drawings record
the siege of Harpers Ferry and the trial of John Brown, as Strother
was there at the time.

Many of the drawings are in sketchbooks which vary widely in
condition. Some bindings are completely broken with pages virtually
falling out, others are at a stage where at least some of the pages
are being held together, although not to the book cover. Some are
relatively secure. There is also a problem with the sketchbooks in
that many of the drawings have been done face-to-face, and pencil is
rubbing off onto facing drawings. In some sketchbooks drawings have
been clipped to look like photos, and glued onto the book's pages.

These problems coupled with the extreme difficulty involved in
accessing, preserving, and viewing the works because of the state of
the bindings and the extreme fragility of the paper has led us to
consider preserving many of the works individually in acid-free
folders, keeping a record of which works constituted a complete

We welcome comments and suggestions regarding the issue of whether
or not it is appropriate to take sketchbooks apart for the above
cited reasons, especially form persons who have dealt with a similar
situation. Thanks,

Gale Simplicio
Collections Manager
WVU Art Collection

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:67
                 Distributed: Thursday, March 28, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-9-67-003
Received on Wednesday, 27 March, 1996

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