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Re: [BKARTS] Flood in the Czech Republic

In a message dated 8/23/02 9:24:31 AM, kfbest@ATTBI.COM writes:

<< .......The article points out that freezing is only a measure to buy time.
sorts of things must be done to conserve a wet book? I assume that you
start with freeze drying to get rid of the moisture, but then what?

Can anyone on the list briefly describe the book conservation efforts
after the Florence flood in the 1960s(?). I seem to recall reading that
that was when a lot of modern conservation techniques were developed. >>

(note: there may be others on this list who have better information)....
The Florence flood of 1966 was, to a certain extent, the birth of modern book
conservation. During that disaster, many prominent book restorers and
bookbinders from around the world converged to aid the Italians. Due to
differences in background and experience, questions arose as to the best
techniques for dealing with the problems. Research was needed, and has been
conducted since that time.
One method of dealing with wet books has been the systematic freezing to
"buy" time. If a wet book is not dried within about 48 hours, mold will grow
and more damage will be done. To avoid further trouble, freezing is the best,
and a fast freeze (blast freezing) is better. The frozen book can be left in
a freezer for a long time. If it is properly wrapped, it will eventually dry,
if the freezer is "frost-free". But with large quantities, the accepted
treatment is to have the books vacuum freeze dried (used for coffee and other
foods). The frozen water in the vacuum is sublimated (drawn from the paper as
a gas or vapor without passing through the liquid state). It is a wonderful
process that has been used on hundreds and thousands of similar disasters. It
is a tricky process, and there have been some problems.
If the water was fairly clean, the vacuum freeze dried book can be used with
minimal trouble. The problems arise when the flood waters were severely
polluted. Then the book may have to be rewashed which usually requires
The Russians have developed a different method of drying wetted books. The
technique was used on books following a fire in St. Petersburg.
Hope this answers your question?
Bill Minter

William Minter Bookbinding & Conservation, Inc.
4364 Woodbury Pike
Woodbury, PA   16695
fax 814-793-4045

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