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Re: [BKARTS] Book-cleaning problem

Bill Minter is correct in guessing the problem is plasticizers in the
plastic protective covers.  The likely culprit is either polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) or cellulose acetate film.  Cellulose acetate will have
likely turned a deep yellow color and become brittle.  PVC has a very
particular smell- like 1970's GI-Joe figures, or Cabbage Patch dolls.
Both can be determined by simple chemical means.  See the Conservation
DistList (palimpsest.stanford.edu) archives for easy low-tech
identification methods, particularly a message by Scott Williams dated
7/31/95.  Over time plasticizers will migrate out of plastic films and
will deposit a greasy, somewhat sticky substance on items in contact.
Certain varnishes, such as cellulose nitrate, will react with
plasticizers- perhaps the bookcloth had some sort of coating to begin
Methanol is used in testing to extract plasticizers, so this would be a
good solvent to start with.  Note: I mean good in the sense that it will
likely dissolve the plasticizer deposits.  Whether or not it is
compatible with the cover materials is another question...  I agree that
it will be very difficult to get good removal results.

Doug Sanders

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