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Subject: Faded vellum

Faded vellum

From: Rick Cavasin <cav>
Date: Saturday, June 26, 1999
Donald Farren <dfarren [at] concentric__net> writes:

>Can vellum be said to fade? ...

When we say that something fades, we usually mean that the colour
becomes paler, and closer to white.  Since vellum is naturally white
or off-white (usually), I'm not sure what 'fade' would mean in this

Vellum with a high grease content will yellow over time as the
grease oxidizes,  however, I have also seen some old deteriorated
vellum that looked translucent.  Not knowing what the particular
skin originally looked like makes it difficult to say whether there
was a shift from white/opaque to yellowish/translucent over time.

>... My first reaction, because I have never noticed the
>condition, was that the reporter's citation of "fading vellum" was
>merely an ignorant rhetorical flourish

I think your first reaction was the correct one.  My own reaction on
entering some of the old libraries in Italy was that many of the
vellum covers looked soiled by centuries of handling.  I don't
think I would call that fading however.

>... Has anyone observed, among the several problems of
>vellum bindings, stained or otherwise, the problem of fading? ...

I've been using organic dyes to 'stain' vellum.  With prolonged
exposure to sunlight, these colouring agents will certainly fade,
and I've verified this with samples (I've never carried the
experiment through to verify whether the skin eventually becomes
white again). If the vellum were stained with inorganic pigments, it
might resist fading.

Rick Cavasin

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:5
                 Distributed: Wednesday, June 30, 1999
                        Message Id: cdl-13-5-001
Received on Saturday, 26 June, 1999

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