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Subject: Fire-damaged manuscripts

Fire-damaged manuscripts

From: Anne-Grethe Slettemoen <anne>
Date: Tuesday, January 15, 2002
A collection of musical scores composed in the 1930's were subjected
to heat and water due to a major fire. This resulted in severe
damage of  the original manuscripts. The spines and covering
materials are non-existing and many of the sheets have been fused
together, most probably aided by the sizing in the paper. In
addition, the brittle and distorted fragments, which are soot laden
and charred around the edges, show evidence of mould on the surface.

A project has been initiated to catalogue and re-house these
manuscripts. As a paper conservator, I have been asked to
investigate whether it would be possible, through a conservation
treatment, to separate those sheets which have been fused together.
I have searched the conservation literature, but it seems that in
general there is not a great deal literature on the conservation of
fire-damaged paper.

However, based on the literature which I have found and
conversations with other paper conservators, a method or technique,
which involves the use of an enzyme bath in a water-solvent medium,
might be considered to break the inter-sheet link adhesion between
the fused together sheets. The media applied by the composer is
water-soluble, hence the mixture of water and solvent.

Does anyone have experience with treating fire-damaged manuscripts
where the sheets have been fused together into blocks which, when
tapped on, resemble hard blocks of wood?

Also, I would be extremely grateful if anyone could point to
relevant literature which could be useful in order to decide on the
most suitable conservation treatment.

Anne-Grethe Slettemoen
Nedre Stolen 3
5003 Bergen
+47 55367486

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:51
                Distributed: Wednesday, January 23, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-51-017
Received on Tuesday, 15 January, 2002

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