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Subject: Decal


From: Whitney Baker <wbaker<-at->
Date: Friday, November 22, 2013
Janien Kemp <jkemp<-at->stadsarchief<.>amsterdam<.>nl> writes

>As a conservation research team we are facing a deteriorated
>transfer/decalcomanie image of Santa Clause from 1943-1944.  The
>image is sticked on a piece of paper.  We know it's a water based
>transfer.  After the crackling fragments are now cupping and loss of
>fragments.  To develop a realistic conservation plan we need more
>We would welcome any information about manufacturing archives of
>(water based) transfers, experiences in conservation treatment of
>transfers or other suggestions to increase our knowledge on the

I am currently writing an article on the history and manufacture of
decalcomania.  There are various types of decals, the most
well-known of which are the slide-off decals, printed face-up on a
paper backing that is soaked away in order to apply the decal to a

This type of decal was most typically printed either with
chromolithography or, later, silkscreen printing-perhaps you can
tell with microscopy.  In any case there would have been a layer or
layers of adhesive under the printing that would release in water to
allow the decal to stick to a surface in the course of evaporation.
This type of decal is in essence a heavy film of layered oil-based
colored pigments.

There were undoubtedly various recipes for making the decal paper,
but most typically consisted of coatings of starch, glycerin, and
gum arabic on the backing paper.  After application, some decals
were coated on top of the design with a lacquer or varnish to
improve weatherability if they were to be used in an outdoor

In North America there are two main archives relating to
decalcomania: the Palm Brothers Decalcomania Company records at the
Cincinnati Historical Society (Ohio) and the Industrial Transfers
collection at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa,

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services
University of Kansas
Lawrence KS, USA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:23
                 Distributed: Sunday, December 1, 2013
                       Message Id: cdl-27-23-002
Received on Friday, 22 November, 2013

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