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Subject: Handling materials on television

Handling materials on television

From: Clint Fountain <cfountain>
Date: Friday, July 11, 2003
I would like to add a caveat to the postings that recently
recommended handling bound volumes with clean, bare skin.  In my
dim, distant past, I employed a skilled young woman to help me with
furniture repairs.  On one occasion, I gave her a set of new, bright
steel chisels to use to carve a replacement leg.  The next morning,
her fingerprints were perfectly reproduced in rust on the backs of
the chisels--every loop and whorl.  We also discovered that the
perspiration from her hands would create purple fingermarks on
freshly-planed oak.  I believe there was some discussion a few years
back about "rusters"--people whose perspiration contains an
inordinate amount of salt, and therefore cannot handle metals with
bare hands--but the purple marks on oak had to have been a result of
pH.  While I do agree that cotton gloves on friable and fragile
surfaces can cause more damage than they prevent, I would be
cautious about recommending that everyone handle paper and leather
artifacts with just-washed bare hands, at least until they determine
that they are not one of the few people whose perspiration is
damaging.  And by the way, most peoples' hands do start to perspire
again as soon as they have been dried.

Clint Fountain
Furniture Conservator/Curator
The Museum of Florida History
Tallahassee, FL

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:11
                  Distributed: Tuesday, July 15, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-11-009
Received on Friday, 11 July, 2003

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