The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 10, Number 4
Aug 1986


Judge Closes Down Secret Repair" Program in Library

A man who had been changing call numbers and putting sticky tape on books in two University of Colorado libraries for three years was caught last August and finally tried June 9-10 in Denver on charges of harassment, criminal tampering, defacing public property and unlawful conduct on public property. He acted as his own defense and lost the case, but instead of the maximum three years in jail and $3,500 fine, he only had to pay court costs. He is banned from the Auraria Campus Library in Denver, but not from the Boulder Campus Library.

This was not a case of a well-meaning patron fixing up a few shabby books, but was a full-scale operation. He said he had spent hundreds of hours and at least $500 on tape (3M Tape 845). According to a story in the Denver Post last August 31, he said he had fixed 22,000 books on the Auraria Campus and 3,000 on the other. The library employees had of ten noticed him in the stacks but had been timid about approaching him (he is 6'4" and weighs 310 pounds). He is trained as an engineer, likes physics and math books, and is named Thomas Winslow. He said he changed the call numbers because "They were using the wrong call numbers," and said he taped the book spines because the books were being neglected.

North Bennet Street School Program Described

A brochure is available describing the new program in bookbinding at the North Bennet Street School (39C N. Bennet St., Boston MA 02113). It starts in September. Applicants should have good manual dexterity and the patience to do detailed work. Previous binding experience or experience with hand tools is very helpful, it says. Students will have to buy their own tools and three textbooks, costing about $250 total. Classes will be held next to the Harcourt Bindery.

Ink Analysis By an Early Model Cyclotron

Time Magazine for March 10 had a story on page 75 about how a refurbished cyclotron on the Davis campus of the University of California has been used recently to analyze the elements in the inks of a) the Gutenberg Bible, b) Bach's Bible, c) the Vinland map, and d) the Dead Sea Scrolls, all of which were sent to Davis to be analyzed. In each case, the analysis permitted significant conclusions to be drawn: a) Gutenberg practiced by printing the 36-line Bible and the Sibyllenbuch fragment, I) it was Bach himself who did all that underlining in the Bible, and not a subsequent owner, c) the Vinland map is real, and d) the Dead Sea Scrolls had been preserved (!) by being soaked in salt water. In the case of the Vinland map, which had been called a fraud because some particles of ink from the map had been shown to be titanium-based, was made with carbon ink, with only a trace of titanium. These tests are supposedly more reliable than previous ones because the data is gotten from the X-rays emitted by a beam of protons that penetrates the object and is not merely reflected. The article says the historian and physicist who are carrying this out "can determine in remarkable detail the chemical composition of both ink and paper, without damaging either."

Grants to NEDCC and Hoover Institution

Philip Smith Finds Big New Studio

Philip and Dorothy Smith moved to the Book House, Yatton Keynell, near Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7BH, in January 1986. The half-acre property, which lies in the center of a pretty rural village, consists of three stone barns, one of which was converted into a ten-room house and another into a large studio, designed to provide Philip with three times as much working space as before.

The Book House is situated about 20 minutes by car from the historic Roman city of Bath, and the area has much added interest for book people. Visitors to England are welcome by appointment; phone (0249) 782597. There is an Open Day with Designer Bookbinders Autumn General Meeting at Yatton Keynell on Saturday, September 27th 1986.

New Microfilming Service to Open

A news release dated July 7 announces that the Exxon Education Foundation has awarded a grant of $584,000 to the new Mid-Atlantic States Cooperative Preservation Service (MASCPS) to establish a regional microfilming center near Princeton University. MASCPS was established in November 1985 by research libraries in the Mid-Atlantic states. The services of the microfilming center, which is expected to be operational by early 1987, will be available to libraries, museums, and archives of all sizes and from all geographic areas on a fee-for-service basis. For information contact Jim Cogswell, Acting Director, Mid-Atlantic States Cooperative Preservation Service, Firestone Library, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 (609/452-3203).

Picture Framers' Certification Program Is Working

The Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA), a large organization that has four or more conferences a year, has been inviting conservators from the Library of Congress to speak at one of their conventions every year for at least five years. They also have a set of guidelines that is very strong on conservation: "PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper," published 1985. For nonmembers it is $15, from PPFA, 4305 Sarellen Rd., Richmond, VA 23231 (804/226-0430).

In January the PPFA inaugurated its certification program at its January convention in San Francisco, with a 150-question multiple choice test constructed by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey. (The AIC certification program for paper conservators, which involved submission of documentation and committee visits to studios, has been put on hold indefinitely.) About 30% of the questions were on conservation. Of the 160 members who put down their $125 and took the test, 76% passed. The 24% who did not pass can take the test again as many times as they want, probably for a reduced fee. The next one was to have been given in July in Dallas. No report has been received on that test.

The questions were chosen to reflect good framing practice, and were tried out on East Coast framers. For this reason some West Coast binders had trouble with the terminology, which varies geographically just as binding terminology does. The scope was very broad: tools, calculations, equipment, needlework; one question asked what the best kind of adhesive was--wheat, rice, corn or potato starch. The people who took it agreed that it was tough but fair. Details about development of the test are in the April 1986 Framer.

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