The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 1
Feb 1985


Winter Meeting of AIC Photographic Materials Group

The fifth annual winter meeting of the American Institute for Conservation Photographic Materials Group took place in Philadelphia on February 1 and 2. There were six papers on photographic albums (by Gary Frost, Betty Fiske, Mary Kay Porter, Doris Hamburg, Jane Boyd and Gary Albright) and two on duplication. A variety of other papers were given, totalling 16. In addition, there were three demonstrations, discussions, tours, a reception and a buffet dinner. Registration was $45 without the dinner.

Jim Reilly (RIT) gave a paper on test methods for evaluating storage enclosures, and Tuck Taylor (Taylor-Made, Inc.) gave a lecture and demonstration on identification and use of plastic materials for photographic storage. Others who spoke include Siegfried Rempel, Susan Barger and Klaus Hendricks. Ian and Angela Moor came from England to give their paper on intensification of images.

The chair of AIC/PMG is Debbie Hess Norris, 121 Devonshire Road, Wilmington, DE 19803.

Acid-Free Kleenex

Until recently it has been safe to assume that disposable paper items like paper handkerchiefs were made of acidic paper--who ever heard of a permanent/durable paper hanky? When tested with chlorophenol red, they did in fact turn out to be below pH 6.0. Now all that is changed. A box of historic tissues was accidentally discovered at Brigham Young University in the process of wiping up some spilled chlorophenol red, which stayed a bright purple on the tissue as it dried. On the bottom of the box it said "Kimberly-Clark Corp., Neenah, WI 54956." This must mean that Kimberly-Clark has joined the growing number of companies now making alkaline paper because it is more profitable. Perhaps it is not unrealistic to hope that soon all book paper manufacturers will join that number too.

Reaction to David Sellars' Statement

The September DB Newsletter, summarized on page 100 of the last issue of this Newsletter, contained an evaluation by David Sellars and Vanessa Marshall of the binding work turned out by students at Guildford, Brighton and the London College of Printing. "There wasn't a single work in any of the binding shows [of students' work] that had any spark of life...." the central problem is identified by them as the schools' effort to teach both binding and conservation in courses only one or two years long. "The result is that there isn't any one thing the students do well."

Understandably, there was a lot of reaction to this in the December newsletter. J. MacWilliams of the London College of Printing noted that David Sellars had not even been to the show of LCP's students' work. A student representative from LCP asked how many plain books "superbly" bound Mr. Sellars had produced after his first year at Camberwell. A teacher at Colchester (not mentioned by Sellars) gave the other side of the story, which bears reprinting here. His name is Roger Capell-Clarke.

"Colleges are trying to turn out the all-round binder! restorer/conservator, and is it that surprising when:

  1. The education authorities are constantly putting pressure on course tutors to run vocational courses, and then constantly squeezing then in terms of tutor/student ratios in the quest for paper efficiency.
  2. The conservation field is the only area where there are demonstrably jobs--and most conservation jobs involve minimal bookbinding.
  3. Students want vocational courses, even with chimeric possibilities of potential employment.
  4. The raw material (student) is not always what we would desire, but to keep any sort of course going we can't afford to turn too many away.
  5. We as designer bookbinders don't appear to know collectively which category we fit into--craftsman, artist, both? I admit to a degree of personal confusion, influenced by necessity."

Conference on Appraisal of Architectural Records

The first crucial step in preservation is to get the object in question into the hands of someone who values it, or at least to persuade the owner it is worth keeping. This type of preservation work has been done throughout history by book dealers, manuscript collectors and others. Today it is being done for architectural records by COPAR (Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records), a national organization with state branches, including an active one in Massachusetts. COPAR is not buying up these records as a collector or dealer might, but is finding them (ownership is, as you might imagine, scattered), informing the owners of their value, and providing advice on how to care for then. Nancy

Schrock, a bookbinder and library conservator who has been working with Mass COPAR, says "While appraisal seems peripheral to preservation, it is actually the key to making decisions about collections as massive as architectural project files."

Mass COPAR is sponsoring a Conference on the Appraisal of Architectural Records on April 26, 1985, at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The conference will draw together experts in appraisal, tax policy, architectural archives, insurance, and the law to discuss the issues in setting financial values for architectural records.

For more information, write to Mass COPAR, P0 Box 129, Cambridge, MA 02142. Registration is open to the public. The conference fee is $85, which includes lunch and a reception at the I.M. Pei Exhibition in the Compton Gallery, MIT.

Hand Bookbinders Flourish in Manhattan

The Manhattan Hand Bookbinders is an informal social group for hand bookbinders and associated book workers. Functions consist of an evening meeting on every first working day of the month. Participation last year averaged about ten each meeting. The meeting place is the historical "Old Town Bar" on 18th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue. Visitors are invited to try refreshments not available elsewhere including Newman's Ale from Albany and Offa's Dyke Nonpareil Beer.

IIC-CG Workshop: Computer. Technology in Conservation

May 13-16, just before their annual conference in Halifax, the International Institute for Conservation-Canadian Group will hold a Training Workshop on "Computer Technology in Conservation." There will be lectures, discussions, demonstrations, displays, hands-on sessions, and a panel. Topics covered will be, according to the preliminary program, conservation management, documentation, image storage and retrieval, information management, a survey of conservation related databases, microcomputers in the conservation lab (case studies of a variety of applications), problem solving with microcomputers, networking, and more. Experience is not a prerequisite. For information (including cost) write to John Perkins, 11C-CG Training Workshop, 1532 Birmingham St., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 2J7.

IADA to Meet in Berlin in 1987

The closest equivalent to our AIC Book and Paper Group in Germany is IADA, Der Internationalen Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Archiv-, Bibliotheks- und Graphikrestauratoren. It does not have a journal of its own, but uses space in Maltechnik/Restauro, a quarterly for museum conservation that costs only DM 72.60 ($25) a year. The publisher is Callwey Verlag, Streitfeldstr. 35, 8000 Muenchen-80, West Germany.

Every four years IADA meets in what they call "Der International Graphische Restauratorentag" and hears papers on book and paper conservation There have been five so far. Judith Hofenk de Graaf, Vice-President of IADA, sent several pages of information, including advance information on the subjects to be addressed in the sixth quadrennial meeting in Berlin in 1987. It is given here in the original language:

Der 6. International Graphische Restauratorentag (IADA-Kongress) findet vom 5. bis 9. 10. 1987 in Berlin statt. Die Organisation liegt in den Händen von Ernst Bartelt, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Mögliche Themen und organisatorische Fragen wurden diskutiert sowie eine provisorische Liste von Referenten aufgestellt. Des Problem "Massenrestaurierung" wurde als Hauptthema vorgeschlagen, zusätzlich soil eine Palette von fûr die Papierrestaurierung relevanten und aktuellen Themen angeboten werden, u.a. Arbeitshygiene, Altchemikalien, Ausstellungstechnik sowie die verschiedenen Möglichkeiten zur Ausbildung von Restauratoren. Der Einsatz von Simultanübersetzern wurde von allen Vorstandsmitgliedern für besonders wünschenswert gehalten, stellt jedoch ein bedeutendes finanzielles Problem dar. (From a report of the business meeting last October in Vienna)

There will be a seminar on paper splitting and mass restoration next September in Leipzig too. Here is the announcement:

Papierspalten, Massenrestaurierung

Leitung: Dr. Wolfgang Wächter 23. bis 29.9.1985, bei starker Nachfrage such 30.9. bis 4.10. 1985
Deutsche Bücherei Leipzig
Gebühr: DM 150.--, die Unterbringung erfolgt in Privatquartieren.
Anmeldungen an Dr. Wolfgang Wächter, c/ Deutsche Bücherei, Deutscher Platz, DDR-7010 Leipzig

Membership in IADA costs 111 65.00 (about $20). Members receive a free subscription to Maltechnik/Restauro plus other information. Write Ludwig Ritterpusch, Geschäftsstelle IADA, 3550 Marburg, Friedrichsplatz 15, W. Germany.

A Copier Easy on Books

The device is based on a Sharp SF-825 plain-paper copier equipped with an alternate projection system that permits pages from bound volumes to be copied without opening the book more than 100 degrees. The copier is able to make clear, undistorted prints from pages that are tightly bound and have narrow inner margins.

The book to be copied is placed on an adjustable book cradle to the left of the photocopier. The alternate projection system is lowered into the open book so that it focuses on the right-hand page. The page image is reflected onto a mirror, then through a lens and onto another mirror, and f in-ally onto a fresnel lens system resting on the exposure platen of the copier.

The photocopier "sees" this image as if it were the original book page, removed from the book and resting face down on the glass. From this point on, the copier takes over and produces a xerographic copy of the page image. The operation takes no longer than a regular copier and in some ways is more convenient, since the book is face-up in a normal reading position and the print image quality is comparable to that of a conventional photocopy print.

The final step in the project will be to license the manufacturing rights, thus assuring the machine's commercial availability. It is hoped that the first production models will be available by early 1985. (From American Libraries Nov. 1984) [The ALA contracted for the development of this copier, which was exhibited at its annual meeting last July.]

Next May's Book & Paper Papers

There will be three papers on bookbinding at the May meeting of the AIC Book & Paper Group, out of a total of 11 papers. They will be on a photo album design (R. Horton), a conservation binding design (R. Espinosa) and linen as a book cover material (W. Minter). Panel discussions will be on computers in conservation and freezers for drying & extermination.

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