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Re: removing unwanted stuff from book

>Our library has a first edition of John Donne's sermons that was originally
>accessioned in the regular library way of the 1800's.  It is marred by a
>white painted call number on the cover, a purple ink stamp on the
>pastedown, and the name of the University perforated into the title page.
>Is there any way we can undo all this damage without doing more in the process?

You may want to review your understanding of "damage" before you attempt to
remove these identifying marks of ownership and use. A book is not only a
mechanism for the storage and retrieval of information, but also an
artifact that provides clues to the use and appreciation of books
throughout its lifespan. The markings may "marr" the book to your eyes, but
were "invisible" when applied. "Invisible" in the sense that they didn't
detract from the value or use of the book at the time of application and
only now look - to contemporary eyes - ugly.

Consider fashion - and how quickly it changes. Treatments such as the one
you suggest do not lengthen the useful lifespan of the book, nor do they
hold up well over time. If you look through your collection, you may find
cosmetic cures from earlier years. How well are they holding up? Do the
procedures wear well, or is it obvious that a cure was tried that now looks
worse than the original ill?

Good luck!

Nicholas Yeager
New York City

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