PAPER PROFILES: AMERICAN PORTRAIT SILHOUETTES
7 CONSERVATION PROBLEMS
Many silhouettes present condition problems that reflect their histories of being stored improperly. Tears, creases, and missing pieces are common to paper silhouettes. The coated papers are vulnerable to mechanical damage and abrasion. Efflorescence of the wax component of the coating can occur, but this can often be locally addressed with the use of minimal moist heat. Some silhouettes have holes from pinning, though the pins are usually missing. This type of evidence should be preserved as it tells how the object was originally or formerly presented. Some backing papers are missing from hollow-cuts. Since nearly the entire effect of these hollow-cuts is lost without their backing paper, it is worth replacing even with a modern paper (see above). Weeping glass can be present in historic frames. Whether this glass should be replaced (and retained) is a decision that must be made in consultation with the owner or curator. Historic framing materials can usually be retrofitted to minimize damage to the paper object by using acid-free materials and by lining the rabbet, for example, without sacrificing the integrity of the original package. All trade labels should be carefully preserved as well, because they provide essential information about the cutter.