The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 8, Number 4
Jul 1984


Acid-Free Marbled Paper

Curtis and Susan Finley of St. Louis, Missouri, have developed an acid-free marbling process and are making marbled paper from all-archival materials. No alum or other potentially harmful mordant is used.

They employ the genuine Turkish process, using water-based inks. The colors are as intense as, or stronger than, those in alumed paper, and are historically in tune with the patterns.

The paper is 70 lb. weight, 17-3/8" wide and 21-7/8" long, with the grain the long way. It is free of acid, alum and resin; it is buffered; and it takes wet adhesives well. Each sheet is stamped "ALUM FREE" and signed on the back to guarantee authenticity.

Curtis supervises the print shop for the St. Louis Public Library where for 25 years he has observed the tragic chemical deterioration of alumed marbled papers. For the last six years he has studied extensively the literature of bookbinding materials, pigments and their chemistry.

Susan is a book restorer for the Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis Mercantile Library's Rare Book and Alchemy collection. Specializing in restoration of leather bindings, she also conserves marbled flyleaves and covers from all periods when such papers were used.

The Finleys now offer a small selection of general purpose patterns to be stocked in quantity. They would like to hear from binders on their needs. Samples and prices are available for $2.00 plus a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Prices will be around $6.00 per sheet. Write Finley and Finley, 816 Greeley, St. Louis, Missouri 63119; or call (after 6 p.m.) 314/961-5477.

Leather Refresher Attendees

Book conservators who attended the FAIC leather refresher course ("Recent Developments in Leather Conservation") in Harpers Ferry in June were Sherelyn Ogden, Glen Ruzicka and Abigail Quandt. Presentations were made by Betty Haines, Jesse Munn, H. A. B. van Soest and Pieter Hallebeek; each attendee was required to give a paper as well.

Now They've Done It: CaCO3 and Alum

There are three separate articles in the journal Paper in 1982 and 1983 that deal with the mixing of calcium carbonate and rosin/alum sizing in the same paper- making system.

K. Brooks and J. Meagher, "The Increasing Role of Calcium Carbonate in the Paper Industry." Paper, 198 (5): 18, 21, 25-27, Oct. 4, 1982.

Blue Circle Industries has been using calcium carbonate as a filler because it is cheaper and has lower energy costs. That's the good news. Here's the bad news: it has developed a way to using it in a rosin/alum system so that somehow the carbonate is protected from acid attack. That means that the paper, though buffered, night be vulnerable to acids in the environment, because the carbonate would no longer be able to get at it to neutralize it. It would also cause anomalous results if the paper was tested for the presence of buffering by putting it in acid and observing the presence or absence of effervescence.

Kathleen A. Jay, "The Problems Caused by the Introduction of Calcium Carbonate Loaded Waste Paper to Rosin/Alum Mill Systems, Part 1." Paper, 198 (5): 28-29, 31-32, Oct. 4, 1982.

In order to recycle paper, all the components of the waste paper used have to be compatible. This paper says that calcium carbonate, like other contaminants (dyes, inks and adhesives), is a problem in the mill recycling waste paper and scraps.

Tom Anderson, "Recycled Paper in an Alkaline System." Paper, 200 (3): 21-22, 24, Sept. 5, 1983.

This author too says that alkaline based systems of manufacturing are becoming more common, and he says this makes it easier (not harder) to recycle mixed waste, provided you are using an alkaline system. This means that shorter fibers and miscellaneous chemicals will be turning up in buffered paper. More board makers are using alkaline systems, he says, because it results in stronger, more rigid board.

Authors of the Draft Paper Conservation Catalogue

In the June issue's story on the Paper Conservation Catalogue, the names of some of the authors were inadvertently omitted. Besides Doris Hamburg and Tim Vitale, they were Nancy Ash, Marian Dirda, Murray Lebwohl, Meredith Michaelson, Kitty Nicholson and Dianne van der Reyden.

Even this is only a list of the people who have put in work on it so far. The document is being compiled cooperatively by members of the Book and Paper Group of AIC, and there is much more to do on it. In fact, since it will be continually revised even after all the sections are complete, it will never be finished, and the list of authors will continue to grow. In a way it is like a Gothic cathedral--or will be if it succeeds as planned.

Philip Smith Tour Possible

Having received some requests, Philip and Dorothy Smith will consider making another tour of USA and Canada in the fall of 1986 for demonstrations and slide lectures, should there be sufficient demand to make this possible. Please write Philip Smith, 83 Nutfield Road, Merstham, Redhill, Surrey RH1 3HD England, if you would like to engage them at that time, with proposals and terms.

Decision Time Is Close for NARS Independence

The Senate passed its version of the bill to grant the National Archives independence from the General Services Administration a few weeks ago, without debate. The House is expected to vote soon (maybe July 23) on their version, but some debate is expected. It is not in the bag. Readers who have opinions on this are urged to call their congressmen, if they get this in time. The Coalition to Save Our Documentary Heritage lists the following reasons for the bill's passage, reasons the congressmen may not be at all aware of:

  1. It is a simple reorganization bill (H.R. 3987)
  2. It has strong bipartisan support. In early June it had 68 sponsors and cosponsors.
  3. The Administration has supported the principle of independence.
  4. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that they estimate that enactment of this legislation will not increase the costs of administering the Archives.

There is another reason, which may be too hard to communicate to a non-conservator, and which is hard to express in any case without editorializing. It goes like this:

Those records in the National Archives belong to us--the nation--the people. They have to be kept in good condition, or put back in good condition, so they'll still be around when our children's children go to Washington to use them (maybe to write a book, or to look us up in their genealogy). But good conservation cannot be expected, on a large scale and over a long period of time, from an organization struggling under handicaps the size of those the National Archives has, Most of them derive from its position under GSA, which has shown no conception of the priorities and responsibilities involved in running an archives. The Archives can run itself; it has before.

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