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Re: [BKARTS] matching old paper

Suzanne Manns asked whether I had to resort to name calling to make
my point.  I certainly did not. I freely admit the need, and freely
offer, an apology to Ms. Manns for my choice of adjectives in my
comments on ?old boiled book extract.?  She was offering a solution
in good faith, with the authority of someone who should have been
trustworthy, and did not deserve to be caught in the explosion
provoked by the suggestion. I hope she will be able to forgive me.

I would also thank Bill Minter for pointing out the the boiling of
books has been documented in conservation literature. This was
relevant and to the point of the substance of my comments. I had
missed this treatment, and I certainly would never have suspected
that it could be proposed seriously.  In a conservation context, the
ethics as well as the wisdom of destroying books for the sake of
merely cosmetic treatment are unsupportable; conservators have long
rejected highly analogous practices like using the margins of
discarded books for infill and reusing marbled endpapers, and the
rejection of such methods is regarded as one of the distinctions
between restoration and conservation. In a general bibliophillic
context the fight against destruction of books for ends that seem
well and good to the destroyers is ongoing; and it may be questioned
whether there is any ethical distinction between the person who
destroys a 17th-century herbal to sell the individual plates at a
large profit (as has been reported here and elsewhere recently), the
person who strips margins out of one 18th-century book to repair the
margins of another, and the person who boils down one
handpress-period book to make another prettier. The current altered
books-friendly forum is not one in which I would have chosen to raise
the ethical issue; but conservators? ethics are supposed to dictate
respect for all original artifacts. Neither does presentation in a
conservation context greatly soften my comments about the--- I will
say lack of wisdom--- of tinting one book with the boiled extract of
another. Aged handmade paper will contain fewer agents of destruction
than aged newsprint, but there are plenty of early papers that are
seriously self-destructive; furthermore, the extract obtained will
have unpredictable properties and content, so that some examples will
be much worse than others. The difference between using modern
paperbacks and handpress-period books is one of degree, not essence.

As to comments on the manner, as oppposed to the substance or genuine
rudeness of my original comments: I will admit that I am pompous; it
has been commented on for years. I will admit that I was
condescending; I do not find ignorance or--- lack of wisdom---
lovable characteristics. And I deny that my shorts are too tight; but
my taxes aren?t yet done, and that has a similar effect.

Tom Conroy

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