The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 26, Number 4
Feb 2003



The Conservation Information Network (CIN) has a new website at <>, created for CIN by the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN). The BCIN Bibliographic Database will be offered free of charge on the new site. It will include the first 34 volumes of Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts (AATA), published from 1955 to 1997. To contact CHIN, call 819/994-1200 or 800/520-2446; or e-mail: <>.


The Mold Reporter covers some of the same territory covered by the Abbey Newsletter, and vice versa: disaster recovery; fungicides; maintenance of HVAC systems; environmental control (RH, gaseous pollutants, particulates); and sound building structure, for instance. Two mold professionals have contacted the Abbey Publications office for information on radiation of moldy books, or the use of chlorine dioxide sachets, and the one who was interested in the sachets later sent in a list of suppliers he had found for the sachets: Raytec Corporation, Engelhard Corporation, Bernard Technologies, and He said, "This is truly very promising technology."

For a free sample copy of the Mold Reporter, send a request to the Abbey Publications office, or call 512-929-3992.


"Tales from the Vault: Exposed to Air after Fifty Years!" by Catherine Nicholson and Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler. Published as a special issue on the Constitution by the History Cooperative, in Common-Place vol. 2, no. 4, July 2002. The illustrated text is at

In 1951, the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were encased in glass enclosures to preserve them. In 1998, the National Archives and Records Administration decided to give the documents new enclosures and evaluate the effect of the old ones. They worked with the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and other agencies. This publication describes in fair detail the work done by the conservators and scientists involved. It describes the methods used to open the old encasements and the use of a digital Charters Monitoring System developed in 1987 to assess the condition of the documents.

Ironically, the documents were in fine shape despite their age, and most of the helium was still there, but the glass had deteriorated. A new type of encasement was designed that will permit analysis of the atmosphere within it, by shining light through sapphire windows below the platform on which the documents rest. If necessary, the encasements can be disassembled, by breaking the seal that is designed to last for a hundred years or more.

The documents will be returned next fall to the Rotunda of the National Archives, where they can be viewed by the public.


"Fungal Growth on Samples of Paper: Inhibition by New Antifungals," by A. Ricelli et al. Restaurator, v.20, 97-107, 1999.

The papers tested were a) five bleached acidic woodpulp papers (pH 5.5), with different additives; b) eight bleached alkaline woodpulp papers (pH 8-8.5, sized with AKD), with different additives; and c) same as (b), but fiber was cotton bleached cellulose linters and some different additives (e.g., gelatin instead of optical bleach liquor (0.8%).

Four strains of fungi were grown from different samples of biodeteriorated paper: Penicillium chrysogenum Thom, Aspergillus terreus Thom, Stachybotrys atra Corda and Chaetomium elatum Kunze.

Seven fungicides were chosen for testing in vitro (test tubes with culture medium) and in vivo (on strips of paper in petri dishes). Growth was measured by counting spores or conidia, and by measuring ergosterol content. Stachybotrys grew much faster than the others; Chaetomium was the slowest. Two of the antifungals, both triazinic derivatives, were almost completely successful in eradicating all four strains. Diagrams of all the antifungals appear on page 100, but the common or trade names are not mentioned.

Unfortunately, AKD is able to support fungal growth, and in some cases can even enhance it.

The authors say their results suggest the necessity of introducing antifungals in paper manufacturin processes as "functional additives" which can be retained in the finished product.


The Carriage House Paper Catalogue of Hand Papermaking Supplies and Equipment , 2002, lists three videos on hand papermaking, each of which sells for $40 plus shipping. They were all videotaped in Asia by Elaine Koretsky, and they run 18, 16 and 42 minutes. The first two were taped in very remote areas in China, and the third in Burma. To order any of them, call 800/669-8781.

1. "The Last Papermakers on the Silk Road" was filmed in Khotan, Xinjiang Province, China, Nov. 1993. Elaine traveled through the Great Gobi and the Great Taklamakan deserts looking for vestiges of old papermaking, and finally found a Uygur papermaker in the oasis of Khotan. The video comes with a written story about her adventures and a full-sized sample sheet of paper.

2. "Papermaking in Sechuan Province" was filmed in tiny Ma Village located in the mountains south of Chengdu in Sechuan Province, China. Elaine had first visited there in 1986, and then returned in 1993 to produce the video. No other foreigners have ever visited this remote area. The paper made there is "Xuan" paper, used for brush painting and calligraphy. The video comes with a written narrative, and a sample of Ma Village paper.

3. "Burmese Festival of Paper Fire Balloons" was filmed in Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar. Elaine narrates this amazing festival where enormous hot air balloons in the shape of animals and made entirely out of handmade paper float through the sky. The video comes with a written narrative, and a sample of paper from Shan state.

Twinrocker is another hand papermaking establishment, located in Brookston, IN. They have a film called "Mark of the Maker" about how they set up their shop and what they do there now. It is available on film and as a video.


The Proceedings from CCAHA's 2000 Architectural Records Conference, "Architectural Records: Preserving and Managing the Documentation of Our Built Environment," went online the following year, and can be viewed at


"Is Deacidification a Step to the Rescue of Historic Newspapers?" by Vladimir Bukovsky. Restaurator, v.20 #2, 1999, p. 77-96.

Both modern and historic newspapers were selected for testing. Although acidity of groundwood paper decisively shortens its lifetime, deacidification with MMC slows deterioration considerably for a time (perhaps 30 years), but then speeds up. The author concludes, "We presume that, besides acid hydrolysis, thermo-oxidation reactions on cellulose and lignin as well as decomposition reactions of lignin in the newly created alkaline medium cause the intense deterioration of the paper strength during accelerated aging."


Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation. Symposium Proceedings, Toronto 1999. Published by the Canadian Conservation Institute 0-660-18571-7. 262 pp. $50.

The papers from this conference cover paper history, art on paper, paper analysis, forensic paper investigation, specialty papers, early papermaking technology, watermarks, and on and on. The 31 "contributors" (speakers, usually) are listed alphabetically in the back, with bio and address for each. They include Nancy Bell, Peter Bower, Thea Burns, Marian Peck Dirda, Richard Hills, John Krill, Anne Maheux, Debora Mayer, Roy Perkinson, Henk Porck, Lois Olcott Price, Harriet Stratis and David Woodward.

The two workshops ("Examining Western Papers," with Peter Bower, and "Examining Oriental Papers," with Akinori Ôkawa) were recorded and transcribed for these proceedings—including participants' questions and all informal remarks, in addition to the presentations of the instructors. The rest of the volume is edited with the same care.

Many of the papers were interesting and important, but the following papers were particularly impressive:: Peter Bower's "The White Art: The Importance of Interpretation in the Analysis of Paper," in which he gives evidence that hemp was one of the most important fibers used in early Chinese papermaking; Victoria Bunting's "The Prints and the Papers," which has a passage on techniques for recording watermarks; Richard L. Hills' "A Technical Revolution in Papermaking, 1250-1350," in which he says, "If my thesis is correct, for 400 years, during a migration westward from China to southern Europe, papermaking underwent little technical development. Then a sudden and dramatic improvement occurred in Italy that set the style of papermaking for the next 400 years, until the advent of the machine"; and Peter Bower's "Beating the Forger: Case Studies in Forensic Paper Investigation," in which he confidently states, "That the copy can be identified as a copy is the simple basis for all forgery investigations."


Contributions to Conservation. Jaap A. Mosk and Norman H. Tennent, eds. [Research in Conservation at the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN)] London: James & James, 2002. ©2002 The contributors. ISBN 1 902916 09 3. xiii, 126 pp. $60.

Six of the papers in this volume are relevant to paper conservation:

  1. "Application of sorbents to protect calcarous materials against acetic acid vapors." Agnes W. Brokerhof. Five sorbents were tested in the presence of acetic acid vapor and eggshells. When the sorbents were not replaced before they reached saturation, the charcoal and zeolite containing sorbents released some of the adsorbed acid, becoming an emissive source. KOH-impregnated filter paper worked best as a protectant against acids.
  2. "Notes on the use of acid absorbents in storage of cellulose acetate-based materials: Competitive absorption of water and acetic acid on zeolite 4A"—Frank J. Ligterink. Zeolite can slow down the degradation of cellulose acetate film in two ways: by moisture absorption (making it unavailable to the cellulose acetate), and by acetic acid absorption.
  3. "(Im)possibilities of the phytate treatment of ink corrosion" - Johan G. Neevel. The best way to stop the ink corrosion process is to treat the document with an aqueous solution of calcium ammonium phytate, followed by deacidification with aqueous calcium (not magnesium) bicarbonate.
  4. "The assessment of chemiluminescence to investigate the oxidation of paper"—José Luiz Pedersoli Júnior. Two lignin-free, acid-free papers gave off more light (briefly) under oxygen than under nitrogen, which suggested a way of estimating the potential instability of paper to oxidative disintegration. (The light pulse may be attributable to the presence of easily oxidizable sites in the cellulose polymer.)
  5. "Iron-gall ink corrosion—Progress in visible degradation"—Birgit Reissland. A method of classifying the condition of iron-gall manuscripts or drawings by their fragility.
  6. "Research into paper degradation from an historical starting-point: A case-study of discoloration of 19th-century paper"—Ellen van der Grijn, Adriaan Kardinaal and Henk Porck. French books of the 1800s were examined, and contemporary documents consulted, to find the cause of discoloration on pages. Some of the evidence points to the combined effect of chlorine bleach in the paper and iron from printing presses or other machinery.


James Caverhill et al. "The Effect of Aging, on Paper Irradiated by Laser as a Conservation Technique." Restaurator, v. 20 #2, p. 57-76, 1999.

The effect of humid aging on Nd:YAG laser treated cotton paper was investigated, and considerable discoloration was seen. The Russell effect test strongly inferred peroxide activity and the likelihood of oxidation of the cellulose, and other tests suggested an abundance of carboxylic groups and an increased presence of conjugated ketones and carboxyls; however, the absorption peaks for oxidized cellulose are barely discernable because of background noise.


Photoconservation is a new unmoderated mailing list for those interested in the conservation and restoration of photographic materials. Luis Nadeau announced it in October of 2001, saying that this would include discussions on technical provenance, authentication, dating, identification, history of reproduction technologies or products, and the chemical or physical treatments of artifacts; also announcements of meetings, courses, and new publications. Discussion of digital "restoration" and detailed how-to procedures of historic or "alt-photo" processes are better left to other lists.

Subscriptions are free. To subscribe, send a blank message to:


The Moving Image: Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists began publication in 2001. Jan-Christopher Horak is the editor, and the University of Minnesota Press is the publisher. ISSN: 1532-3978.

It deals with issues surrounding the preservation and restoration of film, television, video, and digital moving images, and looks at the techniques used to preserve and restore moving images. For the table of contents, or to subscribe, visit The Moving Image webpage:


ANICA (Australian Network for Information on Cellulose Acetate) continues the Australian National Library's Cellulose Acetate Project on the Internet at The creation of this website was one of the recommendations in the National Strategy for Cellulose Acetate Collections, released in 2001.

A Working Group was set up, which communicates via the acetate-l discussion group, enabling members to discuss ideas with colleagues in a supportive environment. Issues addressed so far include assessment guidelines, storage, a national strategy for cellulose acetate collections, and occupational health and safety issues.

The Network established and maintains a "Register of Experience/Expertise," and an annotated bibliography.


"The Care and Feeding of Speakers and the Spoken-To," by Danelle Hall and Janet Swan Hill. American Libraries, May 2002, p. 64-67.

This is really two articles, written independently of each other but both dealing with conference programming. Danelle Hall's contribution is "A View from the Back Row," and Janet Swan Hill's is "A View from the Podium." Samples of their advice:

"Make sure your slide or transparency is readable from the back of the room. If it isn't, don't use it. How will you know? If the font on a slide is the same size as typewritten text, it will not be readable from the back of the room. This is fact. This is truth."

"Speakers put forth considerable effort to prepare conference papers. Also, because they are most likely strangers to your organization and to the conference location, they do not have transportation, may not know anyone in town, and will probably not receive any conference information that you do not provide."

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