The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 5
Nov 1995

Supplies & Services

Note: Elizabeth Morse, Assistant Conservator at Harvard, is the column editor for "Supplies and Services," and her material appears first. Announcements from other sources follow. Suppliers should send their news and samples to Ms. Morse, Harvard University Library, Preservation Office, 59 Plympton St., Cambridge, MA 02138 (617/495-8596, fax 496-8344).

Polystyrene eggcrate louvers can be handy for assembling a quick humidity chamber or drying rack. They are sold by AIN Plastics with service centers in New York, New England, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan and California. Their nationwide toll free number is 800/431-2451.

A great example of new technology used for a centuries-old craft is BookMakers' teflon folder, used similarly to a bone folder, except it doesn't mar or burnish the material being rubbed down. Cleanup is easy because adhesives don't stick to it. It has been available for over a year in the 6" x 3/4" x 3/8" size, but now a smaller version has just been produced measuring 5" x 5/8" x 1/4". One end is pointed, the other has a nicely chiseled edge.

"Vinegar Syndrome" Monitor Strips

A-D Strips are film base deterioration monitors that can be stored in a closed container with cellulose acetate film. It changes color from blue to green to bright yellow as the level of gaseous acetic acid in the container rises. They are the latest product from the Image Permanence Institute, developer of the IPI Storage Guide for Acetate Film.

The strips come with a pencil that has four numbered bands of color around it. After the strip is exposed, its color is compared to the bands on the pencil, and the number of the band closest to the color of the strip is recorded. This helps quantify the rate of deterioration and determine when film must be duplicated. This is safer and more accurate than "sniffing" for the smell of vinegar in film storage areas.

So far, it is not known how useful the A-D Strips would be with a nitrate collection, but they can be used with all acetate sheet and roll film, cinema film, and microfilm. A package of 250 detector strips, two color-reference pencils, and instructions for use costs $29.95. For more information contact Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, 70 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623-5604 (716/475-5199, fax 475-7230).

Digital Scanning of Microfilm Offered

Preservation Resources, known for its preservation microfilming, now offers digital microfilm scanning and indexing services. This completes the cycle of preservation and access for documents: microfilm provides an image that will last 500 years but permits only limited access, while digital scanning improves access (at least for some people), but produces a record that may not even last for 20 years.

The gray scale microfilm scanner they bought for the purpose is manufactured by SunRise Imaging and handles both roll film and microfiche. More information on this subject is available on the Preservation Resources home page ( on the World Wide Web. Or call Meg Bellinger at 1-800/773-7222.

Emergency Supplies for Collections

Alice Bear announced on the Conservation DistList in November that Emergency Supplies for Collections is a new company that provides emergency and disaster supplies packed into reusable high density plastic crates for long term storage. Contents of the crates can be standard or customized; individual items can be ordered; and there is an information service. Call 1-800/929-6886, fax 206/323-4153 or e-mail at <>.

Empty Fillable Felt-Tip Pens from Letraset

These were announced in the May issue, but not very conspicuously, so the announcement bears repeating. The significance of these pens is that you can fill them with water (i.e., open them up and wet the filler or packing on the inside), and use them to make precise wet lines for tearing strips and patches of repair paper. Other uses may suggest themselves. Here is the original announcement:

"For the last year or so, Letraset USA has been making empty fillable felt-tip markers, which they sell as the 'Tria' for $2.95 each or $17.70/case. They come in three widths, and both the tip and the filler are made of polyester fiber. These would be useful for moistening paper to tear it for use in a repair. Contact David Poynton, Letraset USA, 40 Eisenhower Dr., Paramus, NJ 07652 (210/845-6100), or order through your local Letraset distributor, who can probably be found in the Yellow Pages under 'Art Materials and Supplies.' "

Three Exhibitors at the September IADA Conference

The preservation supplies and equipment business seems to be alive and well in German-speaking Europe, to judge by the exhibitors who came to the IADA conference in Tübingen. Three who seemed to be offering equipment and services not widely used in the U.S. were Herco Wassertechnik GmbH (water treatment), Becker Preservotec (paper splitting) and Zeutschel GmbH (scanners).

Herco's water treatment system first removes potentially harmful minerals by reverse osmosis or a mixed-bed water demineralizer, then "enriches" the water with magnesium and calcium compounds, bringing it to a pH between 6 and 9 with an alkaline reserve of 0.3%, suitable for washing and wet treatments. Information from Herco Wassertechnik GmbH, Planckstrasse 26, 71691 Freiberg (Neckar), Germany (49 71 41) 70 95-0, fax 70 95 99. (Yes, the fax numbers in Europe sometimes have more digits than the telephone numbers.) They have literature in English.

Becker Preservotec has a newly developed paper splitting machine, which can reinforce 10,000 book pages per day, which is 50 times as many as can be done by hand. The process is like lamination with tissue and paste, except that a) the strengthening paper is on the inside of the page or document, leaving the outer surfaces undisturbed, b) high temperatures are not used, c) no plastic films or solvents are used, and d) stable adhesives like gelatine and methyl cellulose are used, which can be washed out with water. Information from Becker Preservotec, Friedrich-List-Str. 9, D-71364 Winnenden, Germany; tel. (49 71 95) 92 70 21, fax 92 70 50. The literature they brought to the conference was all in German.

Zeutschel's literature on their Omniscan 3000 (a scanner for large documents) is in both German and English (German on the left, English on the right). The photographs and diagrams of the equipment show a scanning apparatus that looks like a microfilm camera setup, with a book cradle; a computer, which is labeled "Server-PC Scanner-Interface-Board"; and a laserprinter. Output can be in the form of CD, optical disk, fax or laser-printed copy. But apparently it cannot compensate for the curvature of the page, like the Minolta DPCS 3000 can (see previous story in the May issue, p. 36a). Information from Zeutschel GmbH, Heerweg 2, 72070 Tübingen, Germany; tel. (49 70 71) 9 70 6-0, fax (49 70 71) 97 06 44.

A New Preservation Photocopy Service

Ocker & Trapp, a New Jersey library bindery close to New York, is offering a new service: preservation photocopying of brittle books. The photocopy they make serves as a replacement or security copy, but unlike microfilm, it can be put back into circulation.

The materials and methods used meet the ANSI/NISO standard for paper permanence (Z39.48-1992), NARA Technical Information Paper #5 ("Archival Copies of Thermofax and Other Unstable Records"), and the ALA/ALCTS "Preservation Photocopy Guidelines" (published in LRTS, 1994). Their copier is a Sharp SS 8876, and the paper is Weyerhaeuser Cougar Opaque.

They bind the photocopy into a book. The brittle original can be restored if the customer wants it, and returned to the customer. Collections of archives or manuscripts can be copied and bound too, e.g., council minutes, old letters, genealogies and local histories.

Ocker & Trapp's telephone number is 800/253/0262.

Improved Cradle for Fragile, Oversize Books

Curt Lang, whose copying cradle was described in the May issue (p. 35d), has improved and simplified the design, and lowered the price by $100. The large one (14" x 18" bed, 7" deep) is $695, and the small one (10" x 14" bed, 5" deep) is $630. (The bed supports the horizontal part of the book; there is a vertical side support for the part not being copied.)

The copying cradle is intended to be used by a skilled book conservator or a photographer rather than by the public. It was designed to avoid damage to the book, hold the copied page flat, simplify handling, and speed up the copying process. One is being tried out now at the National Library of New Zealand.

The drawings, specifications and description of the cradle can be sent on request from the Abbey Publications office, or by Mr. Lang: C. Lang Designs, 216-B West 17th St., North Vancouver, BC, Canada V7M 1V6 (604/985-4794; e-mail

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