The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 5
Nov 1983


Treaty of Paris Treated

The Treaty of Paris, the document signed by Great Britain and the United States in 1783 that officially ended the Revolutionary War, underwent conservation treatment in September in the Conservation Office of the Library of Congress. (The Restoration Office was recently renamed the Conservation Office.)

The bicentennial year of the document, which belongs to the National Archives and Records Service, began on September 3. The conservation work was done under contract at the Library by Lois Olcott Price of the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, Philadelphia, under the supervision of Peter Waters, the Library's conservation officer.

About 50 years before the document came to the National Archives, it had been reinforced with silk over its entire surface, covering earlier mends and tears. During conservation treatment, the silk and paste were removed and the tears mended. The silk generally came off in one piece, showing that it had not greatly weakened over the years, although the paste had contained some alum. After removal of the silk the document looked fresh and appeared remarkably strong. Clearly the document's former brown hue was attributable to the color of the silk. It is not known how much of the silk's color was natural and present originally.

The personal wax seals of the signers--John Adams, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, and David Hartley--had originally been obscured by paper and silk, but were found to be in good condition after these materials were removed. Most consolidation was done behind the seals, where they had deteriorated the adjacent paper.

The title page and signature page are now on display at the National Archives. Soon a special housing for exhibiting the entire document (which is in two copies, with a total of about 36 pages) will be completed for use at the National Archives and the institutions to which the Treaty will be lent during its bicentennial year.

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