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Subject: Paper terminology and marketing

Paper terminology and marketing

From: Mark Vine <100436.3447>
Date: Saturday, June 22, 1996
Fads, a potted history - A vendors view

In the early seventies the fad was "Acid-free", you could get just
about anything "acid-free" and it became more and more obvious that
some product vendors knew even less about their products virtues
than one would have hoped. I recall seeing a stationery vendor
magazine with the offer of "acid-free paper clips". Thankfully that
vendor is no longer around, unfortunately the fads are.

By the mid eighties "wood-free" had joined in. Many a custodian is
still fooled by this term which actually means that the product
contains no mechanical wood pulp, not that it is a rag based

In the late eighties "acid-free" and "wood free" were joined by a
new term " sulphur-free" and again I recall having an independent
research body P.I.R.A. test a product that was being marketed as
"sulphur free". By its very look it was obviously full of waste
material and the PIRA tests showed a 32% sulphur content combined
with a similar lignin content. I spoke at the time to the vendor who
told me told that he had been contacted by a major Museum customer
who told him that they had conducted *spot* tests on the product and
that it was "Sulphur free". That product is still on the market.

Judging from items tested and some of the latest vendors catalogues
on the scene I have to report that the latest fad is "Lignin-Free".
If its "Lignin-Free" they (the vendors) tell us its okay for storing
almost everything in . Unfortunately the current trend appears to be
to line what is extensively an inferior material with a
"lignin-free" paper.  To the spot test enthusiast, many of these
"Lignin-free" lined products will test fine.. the problem lies more
deeply in the product though and as most conservators will be aware
there is nothing like a thorough test.. and the spot test is nothing
like a thorough test !

Conservators, Archivists, Librarians, Custodians .. consumers all..
really do need to evaluate the products they buy more carefully..
not all "lignin-free" / tan in colour products are the same, not all
"lignin-free" products are "lignin-free" despite what some vendors
would tell us.

Just like you would at the grocery store check out the
specifications for the product you are buying. Don't buy it just
because it looks similar or because it costs less.. you don't always
get what you paid for.

Mark Vine
Conservation Resources

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:2
                   Distributed: Monday, June 24, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-10-2-003
Received on Saturday, 22 June, 1996

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