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[BKARTS] Subject: Re: creating bookcloth (et alia)

In the 1950s through at least the 1980s alum had the reputation of
being the single greatest cause of deterioration in paper. It was
unquestionably a major cause of damage in some uses (for instance as
a process additive in machine papermaking). At that time, and
probably still, the mere presence of unexplained alum in a
conservation lab would have been an embarassment to the conservators.
I am on record as being opposed to the extremes of anti-alum frenzy,
since it does not seem to cause damage in some other uses
(specifically in marbling and where paper touches alum-tawed skin),
but it still seems to me to be better to avoid its use where
possible. After all, alum is added to paste simply as a matter of
in-shop convenience, to extend the life of a batch for a little
longer. Why risk permanent damage to the book just to avoid the chore
of pastemaking?

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