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Subject: Edison phonograph cylinders

Edison phonograph cylinders

From: Stephanie Watkins <swatkins>
Date: Wednesday, October 23, 1996
On October 21, 1996, Sue Dunlap enquired about the removal of mold
from Edison Phonographic cylinders.  While often called "wax"
cylinders, these are composite materials which can be adversely
affected by moisture or solvents, handling, and extremes of
temperature.  The cylinders are "sound incunabula" to paraphrase
Library Preservationist, Mark Roosa; that is to say, the
formulations of the cylinder composition was constantly being
"improved" and changed (a contemporary situation is the current
electronics-computer field).

With a *soft* haired brush (remember what's on the cylinder can be
lost with both mechanical and chemical alteration), you might be
able to dislodge the mold spores.  A small electronics vacuum might
work or try adapting the hose end of a HEPA filter vacuum for more
control.  A delicate touch will be required.  Depending on the
extent of the mold spores (and maybe the type), and the hardness and
composition of the cylinder, other options might be available.

Once clean, the cylinders may become moldy again if placed in the
same environment.  A constant stable environment, much like your
computer equipment prefers with middle-range humidity (around 50%RH)
and a dust free housing such as a neutral-pH paper-board box will
help to deter future problems.  It's hard to give specific
recommendations when the description of the material is so broad and
vague and we can't see it.

And remember to use the appropriate safety precautions.  Molds can
be *nasty*.

Stephanie Watkins

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:41
                Distributed: Wednesday, October 23, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-41-003
Received on Wednesday, 23 October, 1996

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