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Re: acid free?

Oh, great! You are scaring me. I am fully aware of contamination by acidic
materials stored in unbuffered acid free containers. I am also fully aware
of the time when things were sold as "archival." (Some of you may remember
decades ago when so-called preservations kits were sold by the larger
library suppliers which included that damn nefarious book tape, guaranteed
to fall off in 10-20 years, leaving that nasty white residue.) I had hoped
that things had improved.

However, there is no excuse for materials being sold as acid free or
buffered or any other term implying longevity which will in fact
deteriorate over time. During presentations to classes, I usually pull out
some 15th century books. They look like they just came off the press and
that includes the ink. The paper is immaculate, both crisp, soft, and
bright. I know that Timothy Barrett has tried for a number of years  to
duplicate this paper but do not know if he has yet succeeded.

I think if you are trying to locate quality paper, you are going to have to
bite the bullet and pay the bucks for handmade paper from a reputable mill.
Expensive, yes. So, pass the cost on and if you encounter raised eyebrows,
explain your reasons. My (excuse me, the University's) incunables have been
around for over 500 years. I have no reason to suspect they will not be in
as such perfect condition in another 500 years.

Best regards,

Jeffrey A. Barr
Curator of Rare Books
PO Box 117007
Smathers Library East
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-9075 ext. 309
email: jefbarr@ufl.edu

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