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Re: Sugar paper, Kraft Paper & Deacidifying

Christine Lontz sent 7th March:

 >  >Sugar paper (for those of us old enough to remember!) was used to
 >  >wrap 2 lb quantities of sugar here in the UK.    I can recall at
 ................................................................................. >  >original state.  The brown kraft paper I deacidified and the
 >  >resulting solution was like tea without the milk!  The outside of
 >  >this "book jacket" had the owner's signature in copperplate and the
 >  >date 1802. What was this poor quality paper originally used for -
 >  >wrapping parcels in those days? Or goods in shops?   Again I can
 >  >remember at school in the earlier 50s we were expected to wrap any
 >  >new school books in brown paper to help prolong there lives, perhaps
 >  >this is an old trick!
 >    Rodney,
 >  Thank you for more observation on the sugar paper!  That's very
 >  interesting about books being sold with cheap coverings because
 >  people would have them rebound, I never knew about that (one more
 >  thing I never knew).
 >  I too remember covering schoolbooks with brown paper here in the U.S.
 >  when I was in grade school in the 60's, we usually recyled brown
 >  paper grocery bags for that purpose.
 >  I am curious about the de-acidifying, is this important to know how to do?
 >  Just goes to show, there's no such thing as a stupid question.
 >  Christine

Regarding de-acidifying there are a number of sources of information on the Book-List archives and in particular there is the paper by our moderator Peter at:


A number of papers are to be found in the literature such in "The
Paper Conservator".  One should always treat chemical processing
of paper with due concern for its age and value in case it is

Having said that I have washed numerous books in very poor state
before rebinding them - it removes the musty smell, allows you to make repairs whilst the paper is relaxed and damp, and for me it is worth it if I am intending to spend hours rebinding something which I hope will last.

The de-acidifying following washing is to remove the acidic content of the paper.  Fortunately the local water supply here in Berkshire UK is quite alkaline which helps.  The preferred chemical is calcium hydroxide in solution, this should be added to the  washing water according to the authorities.   I use reagent quality chemicals.  Perhaps others on the list may wish to comment on the latest research or point to other texts as it is not my field of expertise.

No one on the list has commented on the use and age of brown kraft paper.  Is my 1802 sample very common I wonder?  Are there any other examples of books in the archivesof this age, which have been wrapped up ?

Rodney Fry

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