From September 4th to the 8th, an ambitious "Conference on Book and Paper Conservation" took place in Budapest, sponsored by the Conservator Section of the Hungarian TAPPI (analogous to the Book and Paper Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works). It was ambitious in the sense that it was large and very international (325 participants, many from Hungary but about 200 from more than 20 countries, including Turkey, Iran and Lithuania; and three official languages, with simultaneous translation); very complex (some simultaneous sessions, many Extra activities at different places in Budapest, plus tours and a party in other locations); and the first of its kind in Hungary for book and paper people.
There were 64 papers on the program, about half by speakers from western Europe. Although many of the speakers from eastern Europe must have wondered whether their isolation behind the iron curtain had made then old-fashioned, their presentations were informative.
Peter Schwerdt described a new pilot plant at the Battelle Institute in Frankfurt an main ("Battelle Europa"), which was due to start up in October 1990. It is basically an improved methyl magnesium carbonate method, designed to do 150,000 books/year as an inhouse operations, with options for later expansion. They closed the solvent cycle so that freon and alcohol will not be released to the atmosphere, and later may try other solvents. By introducing microwave drying, they have cut the predrying period from two days to 30 minutes, and removal of solvent vapors to 30 minutes as well. Their goal is to make it a two-hour cycle, to keep costs of operation low. Another improvement is to introduce automated control, making a technician unnecessary.
Beatrix Kastaly described a joint project to formulate a permanent paper for library editions of newspapers. Papers of known composition are produced and tested. One of the experimental papers, #6, apparently had all the right characteristics for an extremely long life--1007 cotton fiber, high pH, 15% calcium carbonate--but it was disqualified because it was so weak after aging. The reason was the short fiber length: it had been cut too short in the beater.
Derek Priest presented a paper on the permanence of coated paper, based an work done on the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) pilot machine. Under certain conditions, the coating helped the paper retain its strength after aging at 105°C, regardless of whether calcium carbonate or clay was used. Starch, applied at the size press, had no effect on aging performance. His comments on strength measures used are interesting: Aging reduces fiber strength more than bond strength, so zero span tensile (which tests fiber strength) is more sensitive to aging than finite or long span tensile; and tensile energy absorption, which correlates nicely with fold endurance, is a good measure of brittleness. (Oddly, neither of these measures have been chosen for inclusion in any of the permanence standards now being formulated. The favorite measure of strength is tear resistance.)
There was a four-part poster on foxing, by Fausta Gallo and G. Pasquariello: "Hypotheses an the Biological Origin of Foxing." Six factors are seen as causes: temperature, relative humidity, pH, metals, bacteria and mold. Five observations are made, e.g., "Foxing is never or hardly ever found on paper with a high mechanical wood content." There are five conclusions, e.g., "SEM, XRF and neutron activation analysis show iron concentrated more in foxed areas."
Margaret Hey gave a paper on foxing, in which she said foxing was almost certainly due to iron, which gets into the paper from the ground, taken up by the tree; from water; from papermaking chemicals; and from particles from machines. Given high relative humidity, low pH, and initial development of spores on the paper, foxing is likely to result. It looks like rust, because it is. To control it one should wash out the soluble iron compounds and keep what's left in the paper in its insoluble form by keeping pH high, preferably with calcium hydroxide.
The Conservator Section of TAPPI in Hungary was organized ten years ago and members have exerted themselves to stay in good contact with the field by meeting three or four times a year, reporting trips abroad, and translating and publishing 20 articles/year, which they send free to members.
The organizers intend to publish the proceedings.
(This report is condensed from p. 117-118 and 120 in the November 199O Abbey Newsletter.)