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[BKARTS] Odd Thgs-(now)-Deacidification

> Subject: Re: odd things that one finds in a book
>> When I was deacidifying text from a 1572 French medical book bound in

In a message dated 1/23/03 16:44, dsanders@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:>>>
<< While not directly faulting Ms. ....., I am curious if the procedure
of deacidifying text (paper) as old as 1572 is a common practice amongst
bookbinders/restorers.  The first and most obvious question would be to
ask, why was it felt that paper that old needed to be buffered against
acidic development/degradation, when it presumably has 'lived' just fine
for over 400 years.  There has been quite a lot of research about acids
in paper, and different rates of oxidation of different types of
furnish.  Linen, the common paper fiber used in Europe in the 16th
century, ages quite well.  Also, gelatin used as a size at that time
has also been observed to aid in paper permanence.  There is some reason
to believe that in washing papers of this age, we may be washing out
some of the gelatin, leaving the paper more open to future attack.>>>
>>>Generally, the process of deacidification (or alkalization) is used to
slow down the rate of oxidation in the future. One cannot reverse time
with this process.  Deacidification is generally reserved for papers of
the 19th and 20th centuries, which for various reasons contain many
constituents that lead to brittleness and oxidation.>>>>>>>>>>>>>

You have touched (STABBED!) a point that has concerned me for many, many
years. I do wish that there were some way to answer this question. As book
conservators, we generally/routinely deacidify (alkalinize) books that need
to be washed. But should we be buffering the paper in older books?
In fact, I have been meaning to place the following comments on this List
(and the Conservation List) for a long, long time. For years, I have been
asking how we could find examples of books (paper) that were deacidified long
ago (50-60-70 years). This would allow a comparison with the same book (title
and date) that was not treated. I feel that it would be very helpful to
examine some paper that was treated that has now naturally aged. This would
allow us a better understanding of the research that has been done using
Accelerated Aging. The obvious place to look was (initially) with William
Barrow, but I now understand that most of his work with deacidification was
to allow him to, ultimately, laminate the paper. Apparently there is no easy
way to find such a book(s) for a comparison. I hear that there are some 53
boxes of the Barrow Archives in Virginia that could be examined for possible
information about books/paper that he may have treated (and not laminated).
With encouragement from some reputable, research chemists, I think that we
should find examples of items that were treated long ago. If you have any
suggestions as to how we might locate some items/paper that were deacidified
50-70 (or more) years ago, I am interested. I know where we can have the
paper/book examined and tested.
An interesting note: At this year's AIC Annual Meeting, there may be a paper
examining the deacidification processes that we have used for the past thirty
years. I am really looking forward to hearing that paper.

Bill Minter
William Minter Bookbinding and Conservation, Inc.
Woodbury, PA

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