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Subject: Leafcasting


From: Tova Szeintuch <tovas>
Date: Thursday, November 14, 2002
This month the first leafcasting machine to be built by the original
creator, Esther Alkalay Boyd (b. Stella Alkalaj) outside the former
Soviet block is to be retired after 31 years of service.

The machine was built in 1971 at the conservation laboratories at
the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, which Esther
established in 1969. This machine was a development of previous
machines Esther developed in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she also
established the laboratory at the National Library in 1956. In all
Esther built four machines in Sofia based on an initial idea of
using pulp testing machines used in paper mills, suggested by Yulia
Petrovna Nyuksha of St. Petersburg.

In Israel Esther built another 5 machines, which she considered to
be a considerable improvement to the original Bulgarian models.
These were sold to The Library of Congress, New England Centre
Document Conservation, The National Archives in Paris, University
Library in Cambridge and one which was sold to a private
conservation studio in England but finally ended up in the British
Library. These machines are the forerunners of most of the
commercial machines available today. A separate machine was
developed in 1978 by J. Franklin Mowery at the Folger Shakespeare
Library and was based on hand and electronically operated machines
he observed in Germany and Austria in 1972 and 1976. These German
and Austrian machines were developed from observations and
photographs of the original Bulgarian machines taken by Joseph Ries
when he visited Esther Alkalay Boyd in Sofia in 1967.

At the Jewish National and University Library we have being
operating Esther's original machine since 1971 without the
application of tissue lining, computer calculation or square
counting or any additional application of adhesive apart from a
small quantity of methylcellulose added to the water to give a
slight size to the new paper. We consider it to be a very useful
tool in certain areas of our work but not a mass solution to all our
problems. The success of the repair--evidence of which is to be seen
in the Library's collection over the past 30 years--relies on our
correct pulp preparation from a Hollander beater using cotton
linters, linen paper and Kraft cellulose (for tone) and the
subsequent Hydrogen and mechanical bonds the fibers form. The
experience of the conservators who have worked with the machine also
contributes to the correct judgment of pulp consistency and

Now, in development by Tova Szeintuch (Head of Conservation, JNUL)
and with the advice of Esther Alkalay Boyd and Ilana Kesler
(Conservator, JNUL), we have a new leafcasting machine built by an
Israeli engineering firm, "Ravona", which is a slight modernization
of the original design.

Our original machine can now rest and take its place in the history
of the development of this useful conservation technique.

Anyone who would like to see pictures of the original machine or the
newly built version can contact Tova Szeintuch directly, also the
firm who built our new machine is interested to produce more on

Neill McManus
Jewish National and University Library
Jerusalem, Israel.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:33
                Distributed: Thursday, November 14, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-33-011
Received on Thursday, 14 November, 2002

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