The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 21, Number 4
Nov 1997


Note: The classification number that follows each entry is there to help the editor arrange, file and find the citations.

When the publisher's address is not given, it can usually be found in the list of Useful Addresses that is mailed out yearly to subscribers.


"A Sketch of Analytical Methods for Document Dating. Part II. The Dynamic Approach: Determining Age Dependent Analytical Profiles. Further Studies on the Dating of Documents and Handwritten Entries Prepared in Ink," by Antonio A. Cantu. International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners, v.2 #3, July/Sept. 1996, pp. 192-208.

Although the author is with the Secret Service, the methods described are not necessarily those of the agency. Age determination of ink goes back to the first half of the 20th century when iron gallotannate inks were shown to have aging properties. Techniques have improved with new analytical capabilities. Dating of documents is one of the most important ways of identifying its legitimacy.

Some of the headings in this long paper are: The aging process and its measurements - Sampling and mass variance - Ink aging and paper aging - The shape of the aging curve - Relative age of ink entries (Early work; Work of the 1950s and 1960s, Some mass invarient approaches; Recent work) - Absolute age of ink entries (Work of McNeil, Effects of accelerated aging, Exceptions, Examples) - Aging of paper (Folding endurance aging curves; Equivalence of natural and accelerated aging; Relationship [of paper] to ink aging; Some recent studies).

The bibliography cites Sillitoe and Roberts' book, Salamander; Browning's Analysis of Paper; David Roberson's 1981 report on permanence/durability research at the Barrow Lab, in the ACS Advances in Chemistry Series, No. 193; Derek Priest's paper on artificial aging from the 1994 ASTM/ISR seminar; Shahani's paper on the same subject at that seminar; and Erhardt and Mecklenburg's "Accelerated vs. Natural Aging: Effect of Aging Conditions on the Aging Process of Cellulose," from the MRS conference in Cancun, 1994.

It is rare to find conservation science documents cited like this by people from other fields. The author's address is: U.S. Secret Service, Forensic Services Division, 1800 G St., NW, Washington, DC 20233. (1E3)


World Business Solution. Owner/Editor Ms. Mary Hancock, c/o World Business Solution, PO Box 10765, Phoenix, AZ 85064-0765 (602/274-6115). ISSN: 1077-128X. A free publication directed to the toner industry, describing the construction of a variety of toner cartridge products (including toner) for the toner recharging industry. (1E3)


The availability of several classics in the field of questioned documents are announced in the July/Sept. 1996 issue of International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners:

Albert S. Osborn. Questioned Documents (a 1973 reprint of the 1929 edition, still useful) and Questioned Document Problems (no date provided). Both published by Patterson Smith Publishing, 23 Prospect Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07042 (201/744-3291).

Ordway Hilton. Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents (1982) and Detecting and Deciphering Erased Pencil Writing (1991). Published by Elsevier North Holland, Inc. in New York, and Charles C. Thomas, in Springfield, IL, respectively.

Joe Nickell. Pen, Ink, & Evidence (1990) is addressed to a broad audience and includes a history of writing. Univ. Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-81331-1719-4. (1E3)


The American Institute for Conservation has a new brochure: Caring for Works of Art on Paper, by Mary Todd Glaser, with assistance from Betsy Palmer Eldridge, Margaret Holben Ellis, and Karen Tidwell. It covers storage and handling, framing, protection from light, protection from unsafe temperature and relative humidity conditions, protection from gaseous pollution and airborne particulates, and disaster recovery, and it has a reading list. For a free copy, call the AIC office, 202/452-9545 (fax 202/452-9328). (1H-3B2.13)


The Interface Between Science and Conservation, edited by Susan Bradley. Preprints of a conference organized by the British Museum Department of Conservation, 2-4 April 1997, in London. (British Museum Occasional Paper, Number 116) 248 pages. ISBN 0 86159 116 X; ISSN 0142 4815. Available from British Museum Press, 46 Bloomsbury St., London WC1B 3QQ.

Twenty-nine papers were presented by scientists and conservators from seven countries, addressing different aspects of the relationship between science and conservation. At least ten of those papers described or mentioned ideal or actual relationships between conservators and scientists. The editor of this newsletter read a paper that described ideal relationships between basic scientists (or other specialists) and practitioners who have complementary roles. That paper drew upon government research, management literature, and news and science news stories, and presented a summary of recommendations from the research done on this topic.

The papers describing relationships (most of them productive) between scientists and conservators include:

"Conservation Science: A View from Four Perspectives," by Norman H. Tennent

"Sticky Fingers-An Evaluation of Adhesives Commonly Used in Textile Conservation," by Boris Pretzel

"Risk Analysis," by Jonathan Ashley-Smith

"Decision Support Models for Preventive Conservation," by Paul J. Marcon

"Laboratory Testing of New Cleaning Techniques for Stained Glass and their Application in the Workshop," by Hannelore Römich

"Textile Science Interfaces with Textile Conservation at the University of Alberta," by N. Kerr, S. Lemiski and Y. Olivotto

"The Cleaning of Coin Hoards: The Benefits of a Collaborative Approach," by David Thickett and Celestine Enderly

"Looking Through Both Sides of the Lens: Why Scientists and Conservators Should Know each Other's Business," by Jerry Podany and David Scott

"Some Problems at the Interface between Art Restorers and Conservation Scientists in Japan," by Yasunori Matsuda

"Leave it to the Experts?" by Yvonne Shashoua

"Can Scientists and Conservators Work Together?" by Ellen McCrady (1J1)


"Careful Contract Administration: Construction Management," by Joe Augustian. Pulp & Paper, April 1997, p. 51. Although this brief article is not in the field of preservation, it may be helpful to library administrators who are not used to dealing with contractors and subcontractors but who want to see their renovation project or library addition properly carried out. The author has more than 25 years of mill construction experience, and is involved in budgeting, management, and administration as well. (1N)


Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual. Sherelyn Ogden, editor; Margaret Brown, illustrator. Reprinted by the American Association of Museums in cooperation with NEDCC. Compiled from NEDCC's collection of technical leaflets. 250 pp. ISBN 0-9634685-1-0. $39.50 to AAM members; $54.50 nonmembers; add $6.00 shipping & handling. Purchase orders accepted from U.S. institutions only. D.C. residents send sales tax too. Order from AAM, PO Box 4002, Washington, DC 20042-4002 (202/289-9127). (2.4)


"Climate and Conservation," by Mary Ballard. In the AIC Textile Group Postprints, 1992. The Postprints book costs $10 for members, $15 nonmembers, + p&h, from AIC.

The author had been working in the National Museums of Singapore and Indonesia on issues pertaining to tropical preservation of textiles. Both locations were hot and humid (Singapore has a mean daily maximum RH of 96%), but the textile collections were untouched by mold and the colors and fabrics were generally in excellent condition. The buildings were open only during the daylight, when humidity was lower, and temperature and RH did not vary as much between day and night levels as it does in the temperate parts of the U.S.

Light was also different there. We like bright lights, but in Southeast Asia, people feel more comfortable when the light is low, because of the association of heat and light in the tropics. The author suggests that museums in the American South might do better to take into account the influence of outdoor conditions on storage environment, as they do in Southeast Asia, instead of relying on recommendations more appropriate for a cool or variable climate. (2C1.7)


"Irradiated Records: Identification and Handling Strategies," by Suzanna Maupin Long. Architext, Newsletter of the Science, Technology, and Health Care Roundtable, SAA, v.5 #2, Spring 1996, p. 5-6.

The author works at Infotek Consulting Services, and the information she provides on this obscure topic is fairly scarce in the professional literature. Records produced before 1960 are more likely to be radioactive, because regulations were tightened that year. The principal means of contamination are ingestion or inhalation of radioactive particles. Survey meters are the simplest and easiest devices to use for quick surveys. The types of records most likely to be radioactive (e.g., nuclear medicine patient records or nuclear scientists' papers) are described. Contaminated documents can be copied on a dedicated photocopier. (2F3.1)


Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel. Copyright by the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property (NIC); produced by the NIC, the National Task Force on Emergency Response and the Getty Conservation Institute; and funded through a public-private partnership with major funding provided by the NEH. Initially, forty-five thousand wheels were sent out free of charge to all kinds of cultural institutions. The wheels may now be purchased for $9.95 ($5.95 at the nonprofit/government rate), including postage and handling, from Heritage Preservation [the new name of NIC], 3299 K Street, NW, Suite 602, Washington, DC 20007; or call their toll-free number, 1-888-979-2233. Reduced rates are available for orders of 10 or more.

The wheel is 10" in diameter, with a circular mask on both sides that reveals only the subjects of the information panels, plus the text of one panel at a time. The panels are shaped like pieces of a pie. On one side the topics are: 1) Disaster alert (if you have advance warning), 2) Safety first! 3) Getting started off-site, 4) Stabilize the building and environment, 5) Documentation, 6) Retrieval and protection, 7) Damage assessment, and 8) Salvage priorities. To illustrate the kind of text found in the panels, the one for "Salvage Priorities" covers:

  1. Vital institutional information
  2. Items on loan
  3. Collections that most directly support the Institution's mission
  4. Collections that are unique, most used, most vital for research, most representative of subject areas, least replaceable or most valuable
  5. Items most prone to continued damage if untreated
  6. Materials most likely to be successfully salvaged.

On the other side of the wheel are emergency salvage steps to take for each kind of library, archive and museum material. The people who use the wheel are urged to complete their preparedness for future disasters by stocking emergency supplies, training staff, developing a disaster plan, and learning where to get help. (2F3.4)


CABNEWSLETTER no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 1996), new series. This issue focuses on the Florence flood, whose 30th anniversary was celebrated in November last year. Although the newsletter is all in Italian, book and paper people who were there, or who know a few words of Italian, could be taken back in time, if only by the four pages of photographs and the names of the authors listed in the table of contents.

The pictures show the internal court of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale after the flood, with the high-water mark at the second story and broken-up furniture all over the ground; shelves and floor in a stack area, littered with wet pieces of books; distorted books lined up on a sawdust-covered shelf of raw wood (caption: "After the mud, the sawdust"); a woman cleaning catalog cards; newspapers drying on clotheslines strung between makeshift supports; book covers drying on clotheslines; and a group of exhausted "mud angels" taking a break for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. The table of contents reads, in part,

The different testimonies of the flood - Carlo Federici

Thirty years of Florence - Libero Rossi

The flood and the archives - Cecilia Prosperi

How the materials of the National Library were salvaged - Emerenziana Vaccaro

The problem of conservation and the Center [Centro di restauro] of Florence - Emanuele Casamassima

Narrative of a visit to the United Kingdom - Luigi Crocette

International Center for the salvage of books and documents - O.K. Nordstrand

Several of these papers were originally published within a few years of the flood, and are reprinted here.


"The Conservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem," by Esther Boyd-Alkalay and Lena Libman. Restaurator 18:92-101, 1997.

Every major conservation-related aspect of the Dead Sea Scrolls' history is discussed in this article: their discovery between 1947 and 1956, original condition, the languages used in the text, the skins on which the scrolls were written, the inks, damage from early handling, storage and repair (with lots of cellotape!), Harold Plenderleith's ingenious separation of black gelatinized layers of parchment, and finally, recent (1991- ) treatment in a laboratory established for treating these materials. Some of the fragments had turned black from storage between glass plates and from the weight of more glass plates piled on top of them. In the fifties, sixties and seventies, PVA, leather dressing and Perspex solution were responsible for more damage. The authors tell about their selection of the best adhesives to use (water-based ones like methyl cellulose), and how they used them (applied thinly to Japanese tissue, let dry, then slightly remoistened for use).

Since there was so much work to do, they gave first priority to the easiest work that could do the most good: removal of acid boards and plate glass, documenting their work, placing the fragments in a controlled storage room and so on. The Getty Conservation Institute has collaborated with investigation of the history and condition of the Scrolls. (3A5.3)


"The Origins and Significance of Two Late Medieval Textile Chemise Bookbindings in the Walters Art Gallery," by Frederick Bearman. Journal of the Walters Art Gallery: Essays in Honor of Lilian M.C. Randall. Vol. 54, 1996, p. 163-187.

This is quite scholarly, surveying the entire field of chemise bindings from the 12th to the 16th century, and focussing on the two bindings in the title and others like them. There are 20 photographs showing either actual bindings, or paintings and sculptures in which chemise or girdle bindings are portrayed; over four pages of notes; an appendix describing six textile chemise bindings; another appendix describing 24 alum-tawed chemise bindings; and 28 notes to the appendices. (3A5.3)


The Journal of the Writing Equipment Society. Editor, Harry Scharf. Issued to members three times per year. The membership secretary is at 175a Ulverley Road, Solihull, West Midlands B92 8AA, UK.

The Society was founded in 1980 and is devoted to the study and conservation of writing instruments and accessories. These include pens, pencils, nibs, inkwells, stamp boxes, quill cutters, scriveners' knives, seals, blotters, letter scales, paper knives, rulers, and ephemera. (3B2.12)


Preservation Matting for Works of Art on Paper, A Supplement to Picture Framing Magazine, by Hugh Phibbs. 30 pp. February Supplement 1997. This is subtitled "The Role of the Window Mat," but it covers much more than that. Well illustrated. (3B2.59)

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