The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 22, Number 6



A Directory of Educational Opportunities. Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, 176 John St., Suite 309, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 1X5 (416/581-1071; fax 905/851-6029; website ISBN 0-9695091-3-8. 38 pp. No price indicated.

A generous amount of information is given about the teachers (Canadian and U.S.) on p. 1-22. Twenty-eight institutions, mostly from Canada and the U.S., are listed on p. 23-28.


"Safeguarding the Documentary Heritage: A Guide to Standards, Recommended Practices and Reference Literature Related to the Preservation of Documents of All Kinds," edited by George Boston. Published "recently" in the framework of the Memory of the World Program. Free copies can be ordered from the UNESCO offices in Paris. Write to Mr. Abdelaziz Abid, Division du Programme general d'information, UNESCO, 1 Rue Miollis, 75732 Paris, France.

The number of pages is not provided. (Announced online, in EPIC News, Sept. 1998.)


Promoting Preservation Awareness in Libraries: A Sourcebook for Academic, Public, School, and Special Collections, edited by Jeanne M. Drewes and Julie A. Page. Greenwood Press, 1997 (Call 800/225-5800; mention source code 9811). 384 pp. 0-313-30206-5. GR0206. $75.00.

Ann Russell (Executive Director of NEDCC) gave this a good review, saying the book "will be an important addition to the preservation literature, pulling together information that is essential to effective preservation programs but that has not been widely and easily accessible in the past."


"Examination of 15th and 16th Century Legal Texts," by Martha Blake, San Francisco Police Department, Crime Laboratory, 850 Bryant St., Rm. 435, San Francisco, CA 94103. Paper presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, San Francisco, Feb. 1998. Abstract printed in Int. J. Forensic Document Examiners, v.4 #3, July/Sept. 1998, p. 287.

The six books submitted for examination were all printed between 1490 and 1595, and may have been stolen by the bookbinder. Identifying marks had been erased or scraped off, but the forensic lab was able to provide evidence that they had come from the San Francisco Law Library, by use of low power magnification, oblique lighting, use of the Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA), reflected infrared and infrared luminescence, in addition to visual examination of surfaces and fibers. "On rare, privileged occasions, a forensic scientist has an opportunity to examine historically significant evidence [like this]."


"Konservierungseinbände. Teil 1: Der Holzdeckeleinband" [Conservation binding, Part 1: The wooden board binding], by Janos A. Szirmai. Restauro 1/99 (Jan.-Feb.), pp. 44-51. Fourteen footnotes with references.

This well-illustrated article is the first of three, which will trace the development of the concept of the conservation binding. Two main types are described here, reported from personal experience. Preliminary investigations dealt with choice of materials and the functional efficiency and durability of the binding.

Unfortunately for the average American reader, this is all in German, but in view of its applicability to current book conservation practice, the comprehensive coverage, and the author's depth of knowledge, it deserves to be mentioned.


"Onward and Downward: How Binders Coped with the Printing Press Before 1800," Part One, by Nicholas Pickwoad. CBBAG Newsletter, Spring 1999, p. 18-32. The CBBAG is at 176 John St., Suite 309, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 1X5 (416/581-1071; fax 905/851-6029).

This is more like a journal article than a contribution to a newsletter. It is long, authoritative, well written and illustrated, and supported by four pages of bibliographic notes. There is a graph showing how books bound in boards before they were offered for sale disappeared by 1590, and temporary or incomplete bindings took their place. There are five photographs of surviving bindings that seem to have answered the binder's need for a "cheap binding which would serve to hold loose sheets in order, protect them and allow them to be handled, and not pre-empt a decision on the part of the purchasers of these books as to the type of permanent binding they might choose to commission."


European Directory of Acid-Free and Permanent Book Paper, 1998. Published by LIBRIME (Library & Information Management in Europe), Bld L. Schmidt, 119 (box 3), B-1040 Brussels, Belgium (fax 32/2/736.82.51). One copy will be sent free on written request.

This edition lists 75 types of permanent paper from 18 manufacturers in 9 European countries. This is about the same as it was in 1994.

Most of the new books published in Europe continue to be printed on acid paper.


Competitive Grade Finder, 1998/99. $45 from Grade Finder, 662 Exton Commons, PO Box 944, Exton, PA 19341 (610/524-7070). 450 pages.

Lists 5500 papers manufactured for printing and office work, with characteristics of each paper, including whether it is alkaline or not, and whether it is available in color. (Not all the characteristics may be listed.) Papers made for office machine companies and sold under the name of the company (e.g. Xerox) are listed too. Internet access to the publication is free to those who buy a paper copy.


"Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy Applied to the Analysis of Ancient Manuscripts," by M. Carme Sistach, Núria Ferrer & M.T. Romero. Restaurator 19, p. 173-186, 1998.

Conservation scientists feel uncomfortable about doing mechanical tests instead of chemical ones in order to learn how a paper or other material has changed significantly as a result of accelerated aging, treatment or storage conditions. All that the physical tests can tell you is that the sample is stronger or weaker than it was. What the scientists want is information about what might be going on inside the material.

Furthermore, they want to be able to assess the condition of valuable artifacts nondestructively. (Fold, tear, burst, tensile and other test methods borrowed from the paper industry are all destructive.)

This paper by Sistach and colleagues is not a pioneering work, because their bibliography cites sixteen relevant publications, including David Hon's "Fourier Transform IR Spectroscopy and Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis: Use in the Study of Paper Documents," American Chemical Society, 1986. (Advances in Chemistry Series 212) Historic Textile and Paper Materials, Conservation and Characterization. But it does help fill out the picture with its IR and SEM-EDX spectra and discussion of apparatus used and nature of the samples.

The band (tracing on the line graphs) reflects pH, presence of carbonate (calcium or sulphur), and the C-O bond that results from hydrolysis and oxidation. Acidic samples have more C-O bonds, and a decrease in hydration capacity, both of which are measures of degradation in cellulose.


"Measuring Ink Extractability as a Function of Age--Why the Relative Aging Approach is Unreliable and Why it is More Correct to Measure Ink Volatile Components than Dyes," by Valery N. Aginsky. Int. J. Forensic Document Examiners, v.4 #3, July/Sept. 1998, p. 214-230.

The author says that current methods of dating inks rely on the fact that as inks get older they are harder to extract into weak solvents; but it is better to analyze ink volatile components, because they never evaporate completely from an aging ink, and are easy to measure reliably by GC/MS.


"Papyrus aus Altägypten: Wie lässt er sich auffalten?" [Papyrus from Ancient Egypt: How can it be Unfolded?] By Myriam Krutzsch. Restaurator, 1/99, p. 12.

A brief illustrated article about a badly oxidized papyrus, wrinkled and folded, found in an earthenware pot at an archaeological dig. It was from about 2200 BC. The conservators had to "decode" the folding method used as they unfolded it so that they could put it back, if this was later found desirable. A model was made to illustrate the original folding method.


Synthetic Coating Adhesives, a project of the Coating Binders Committee of TAPPI's Coating and Graphic Arts Division (CA 900104.02). Alan K. Macnair, Task Group Chairman. By B.R. Bobsein and eight other authors. $46.00 from Tappi Press, Technology Park/Atlanta, PO Box 105113, Atlanta, GA 30348-5113 ( 1998. 57 pp. ISBN 0-89852-349-4.

The preface by Alan Macnair says that the first synthetic binder was researched in 1946 and they have become increasingly important since then. "This monograph explores the physics, chemistry, and kinetics of these materials during their manufacture and use.... The four polymer groups most widely used in the paper coating industry are covered. These are: styrene-butadiene lattices, acrylic copolymers, polyvinyl alcohol, and polyvinyl acetate. The monograph will serve as a learning tool for initiates entering the challenging field of paper coating while simultaneously providing an excellent reference manual for the older, more experienced professionals." It may also help conservators who are trying to separate the pages of blocked books or treat coated paper.

Any Abbey Newsletter subscriber may borrow the book for a short period, if they are willing to pay for postage and handling both ways.


"Deterioration and Conservation of Vegetable Tanned Leather," the results of the European Environment Leather Project. Edited by René Larsen. Available from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Conservation, Esplanaden 34, DK-1263, Copenhagen K, Denmark (tel. 45 33 12 68 60, fax 45 33 32 08 01, e-mail <>).

This is a research report that is written so that the last chapter can be used as a manual for the assessment, conservation, storage and quality control of vegetable tanned leathers.


"Duplication of Historical Negatives," technical leaflet available from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (1 page, front and back, 1994).

Sections are headed:

What to Duplicate
Preparation for Duplication
Description of Duplication Options:
Prints and Copy Negatives
Direct Duplicate Negatives
Interpositive Duplicate Negatives - Contact Duplication
Interpositive Duplicate Negatives - Reduced Format, Long Roll systems
Digital Imaging Storage Systems


Guild of Book Workers Supply Directory, 1997. GBW, 521 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10175 (212/757-6454). $15 postpaid. An Addendum is planned for early in 1999.

The Guild is also working to put their publications up on the Net

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