MARGOT M. WRIGHT, ED., ETHNOGRAPHIC BEADWORK: ASPECTS OF MANUFACTURE, USE AND CONSERVATION. London: Archetype Publications Ltd., 2001. 140 pages, softcover, $30. ISBN 1-873132-87-5.
Ethnographic Beadwork: Aspects of Manufacture, Use and Conservation is the compilation of 13 authors' papers or posters presented at a seminar at the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside Conservation Centre in 1991. The presentations focus on the conservation and care of beadwork from around the world, touching the wide variety of issues related to the breadth of materials, inherent vice and deterioration factors, and manufacturing techniques. The joint effort is a welcome addition to the field of ethnographic conservation and provides the first published attempt to cohesively identify and share information on the knowns and unknowns of this underexplored topic. The book broadly focuses the spotlight on this area and provides a foundation of guidelines upon which to build. This author hopes that the efforts of this conference will be the catalyst for much-needed further research. Readers who find this topic of interest will regret not having taken advantage of the three-day workshop hosted prior to this seminar to pursue further resources and discussions with the authors and the handful of conservators who have independently explored this topic and existing resources.
Conservators, including myself, who examine, document, and treat ethnographic beadwork and the interfacing materials as their professional focus will find this a neatly packaged series of presentations from a host of authors who cross organic and inorganic conservation disciplines to share their knowledge and experiences. Working within the broad focus that a symposium requires in the invitation to presenters, the book is divided into three general areas of beadwork topics: manufacturing techniques, identification of materials and conditions, and aspects of conservation treatment and preventive care. The range of topics is difficult to arrange in a cohesive way due to the variety of materials, from glass and ceramics to imitation bead, and the focus of individual articles on manufacturing techniques, construction and decorative use, or conservation treatment cases. However, editor Margot Wright does a commendable job of making the postseminar articles flow in a readable fashion.
The first article, a survey of traditional glass bead making in India by Torben Sode and Jan Kock, is illustrated with photographs that significantly enhance the reader's understanding of the tools, techniques, and intricacies of constructing mosaic, chevron, and lampwork beads. It is the only article that focuses on manufacturing techniques, craftsman-ship, and recent changes (evolving techniques and the introduction of new methods and tools) that have an impact on quality. The information provides insights into techniques and craftsmanship that can influence a conservator's examination and assessment of the beads, especially if he or she has the knowledge to compare them with bead manufacture in other cultural or geographic areas. Some contemporary Indian beads, for example, are purposely meant to imitate the more expensive Venetian beads and are commonly confused in the open market. The two are readily distinguishable, however, to a practiced eye that is familiar with the materials and manufacturing techniques of each culture. The research by these two authors provides a valuable documentation aid for conservators. As they write, “Ethnographic parallels and ethno-archaeological research can be important in this context as they can provide a living knowledge of the techniques used in the past.”
The second article, by Ian Glover, discusses archaeological beadwork in Thailand. Glover examines the differences in deterioration he has observed in the same series of archaeological glass beads under similar conditions at the same site. He shares his detailed case study and analyzed results on the buried Iron Age Thai glass and the difficulties in obtaining reliable compositional analysis from very small samples. He concludes that even with the analytical results in place, his study remains a puzzle, and he welcomes further discussions and shared experiences.
Information on the manufacturing techniques for mother-of-pearl is included in Judith Dore's thorough presentation on mother-of-pearl and Byne's disease. (Byne's disease is the formation of a damaging efflorescence that forms on shells in the presence of acidic storage environments.) The article also includes a summarized history of occurrences and the use of mother-of-pearl throughout the ages. Dore gives a succinct and useful summary of the different historical interpretations of the causes of Byne's disease, the signs of deterioration, and treatment of the disease. Further strengthening her article is a long bibliography that references sources from allied collector, curatorial, and science fields.
At this point in the book, a number of authors speak to the identification of bead materials, the types and classification of deterioration in beads, and the difficulties with identification of the causes for the variations in condition that they observe in their own collections. Stone, glass, and plastic beads are included in this section. Each author adds a piece of information that, in the wide and variable framework of ethnographic beads, helps to move forward discussion on defining and visually classifying a breadth of symptomatic deterioration conditions.
Scott Carroll and Kelly McHugh of the Smith-sonian Institution present a thoughtful outline that, building upon the available published material, suggests a helpful methodology by which to visually classify deterioration of glass beads. In an attempt to characterize the symptoms of glass disease on bead-work made by indigenous peoples of the Americas, they complement their visual classification methodology with a structured series of chemical spot tests meant to eliminate some information while providing other relevant information. Their methodology is an inviting springboard for further discussion, and they request suggestions from colleagues to refine their system as a useful tool for the field of conservation.
Other authors address imitation jewelry and emphasize the inherent vice of plastics and how prevalent their use has been in ethnographic bead-work. Margret Carey presents a summary of the conservation challenges associated with beadwork and the complexities involved in decision making due to the association of the beads with a broad array of adjacent and support materials. Her overview of the potential hazards sets the tone of this publication. She parallels several other articles and calls for additional research on plastics and further contributions to the means for identifying and classifying deterioration, thereby coming to understand more clearly what treatment needs are. All authors acknowledge the difficult issues surrounding preventive care and the need for housing designs that accommodate ventilation or isolation of incompatible adjacent materials where feasible.
Julia Fenn's article on plastic buttons in social history draws upon her longtime interest in plastics in museums. It is especially useful for implementing low-tech preservation strategies. An appendix that summarizes the main plastics and conservation concerns is a handy reference, supplemented by a short list of useful materials and suppliers. Also, visual identification makes spot testing and destructive sampling unnecessary. The practical hands-on experience in the workshop allowed participants to observe the visual characteristics of different deterioration products of commercially manufactured plastics. Participation in the workshop would have been especially helpful in strengthening an understanding of the variables in plastics. As with training in any unfamiliar material, repeated observation and discussion with colleagues familiar with different plastics is of great importance, as no series of photographs can adequately provide the essential visual and tactile clues needed to make a correct assessment.
Aspects of conservation treatment, which compose the third part of the book, are presented as three case studies. A beaded Cameroon throne, an Edwardian beaded satin bodice, and an Egyptian faience net illustrate the range of materials, conditions, and treatment solutions that challenge an ethnographic conservator. Each study is different in its treatment philosophy, the relevant conditions, the impact of adjacent materials or display constraints, and the problem-solving process to determine stabilization and treatment. While interesting when read individually, these case studies when viewed together exemplify how the conservation of ethnographic works of art draws upon the methodologies and approaches of a wide range of specialties.
The book concludes with short articles or posters that provide practical tips. The presentation on cleaning beadwork articulates guidelines to follow on how or how not to clean beads. While simple and concise, it is a useful foundation for new students and prepares the way for further discussion and the elaboration necessary to meet the needs of a specific object.
These shorter presentations are suited to a poster format and appear to have a similar philosophical and educational goal that uses a simple format to provide an informal introduction and sharing of practical information about the identification, care, or treatment of beadwork. The presentations are not comprehensive academic discourses. They are limited by their length and the absence of the presenter to answer questions or further discussion.
The second poster project describes a small storage project undertaken by interns at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. An overcrowded bead and jewelry collection was difficult to safely access and provided an opportunity for the interns to apply preventive care methods and new materials to modify a less than optimum storage environment. The interns briefly describe and illustrate the before and after drawer conditions, the storage materials used, and the rehousing methods for the objects.
A third article illustrates the difficult problems in a beaded Edwardian bodice associated with the complexity of the physical construction and chemical composition. It begins to explore the correlation between color and shape of bead and deterioration, with no definite conclusion except for a call for more work and research, and the need for vigilant inspections and controlled storage environments. The final article addresses stone beads and their classification on a hardness scale. A thumbnail synopsis of 28 types of stone beads provides a snapshot of which beads can withstand wet-cleaning and which ones have special needs. A few simple tests for identification are noted. The overview, however, is brief enough that those unfamiliar with the identification of stones should seek analytical support from a geologist or conservation scientist.
In summary, the presentations by these 13 authors are a timely contribution to the field of conservation. The book is an easy read that brings together international resources solely focused on beads and challenges readers to continue to take steps to advance solutions. Unlike publications from prior symposia where issues related to beads were commonly part of a broader focus on the conservation of cultural objects or general material classifications, Ethnographic Beadwork provides a primary emphasis on the beads themselves and a secondary focus on adjacent materials. It gives a new sense of importance to beads as a topic in their own right and highlights a number of concerns that invite further research. Each author has compiled a useful bibliography that itself is a valuable reference tool. Judith Dore, Julia Fenn, and Scott Carroll have supplied particularly thorough listings. So many of these presentations invite additional contributions that the bibliographic listings will only grow as further documentation and research are undertaken. Resources from allied fields would be especially useful in gaining a fuller perspective on the issues as research advances. As a single publication, this book makes a useful reference for those interested in the conservation issues surrounding beadwork.
- Alexandra Allardt O'Donnell
- ArtCare Resources
- 142 Mill St.
- Newport, R. I. 02840
THOMAS L. GRAVELL and GEORGE MILLER, AMERICAN WATERMARKS, 1690–1835. 2d ed., revised and expanded with the assistance of ELIZABETH A. WALSH. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll, 2002. 363 pages, hardcover, $85. Available from Oak Knoll Press, 310 Delaware St., New Castle, Del.
19720. ISBN 1584560681.
For historians, bibliographers, and all those engaged in the study of early American handmade papers, Thomas Gravell and George Miller's catalog of watermarks in American handmade papers is an invaluable resource. The current volume builds upon their 1979 publication and reproduces 1,057 water-marks recorded using the Dylux method pioneered by Gravell. Compared with the earlier publication, this edition includes an additional 323 watermark
images, contributions by Elizabeth Walsh, and a foreword by historian Keith Arbour. A glossary of paper-making terms and a geographic index are added, and paper mill histories, the bibliography, and proper name and iconographic indexes are revised and updated. The contact images taken of the watermarks are now housed in the Special Collection Department of the University of Delaware Library.
As a team, Gravell and Miller have pioneered the formal study of watermarks in American papers. After developing the Dylux process in 1970 and retiring from the DuPont Corporation in 1975, Thomas Gravell continued to pursue his avocation, delving into watermarks and sharing his findings and watermark images with other scholars. A professor of English at the University of Delaware, literary historian and bibliographer George Miller has conducted investigations of American papers that include those published in Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia Printing, 1728–1766 (1974). Gravell and Miller are joined in this edition by Elizabeth A. Walsh, head of Reader Services at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D. C.
The dates in the title, 1690–1835, encompass the period of development of handmade paper in America, from the establishment of the first well-documented paper mill, the Rittenhouse mill in Philadelphia, until machine-made paper began to replace handmade paper in the mid 1830s. (In the foreword, Arbour explores the possibility that American paper mills actually may have existed in Massa-chusetts in the 1670s, predating the 1690 Rittenhouse mill, but firm evidence for this is still pending.) The American papermaking industry began to flourish after access to imported paper was interrupted by two nonimportation agreements, the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. After the onset of the Revolutionary War in 1775, with paper molds no longer imported and paper in short supply, paper of fine quality began to be widely produced in this country.
In their research, the authors often had to rely on secondary sources, with particularly scant records surviving from makers of paper molds. The singular exception is the detailed journals of Nathan Sellers, the principal American paper mold maker from 1776 until 1824. The authors cover only American-made papers and include those that adopt foreign, usually British, watermarks. With a few exceptions, they do not include watermarks in papers that were imported to America (which are covered separately in their Catalogue of Foreign Watermarks Found on Paper Used in America, 1700–1835 [New York: Garland, 1983]).
This volume, like others that assemble a large body of watermarks, is first and foremost a research tool that gathers primary source material—the watermarks— and makes it available to other researchers. Through detailed examination and cata-loging of the watermarks combined with study of other primary and secondary sources, the authors paint a coherent picture of the early American paper industry. Clear organization is essential to any catalog of watermarks, and this is amply provided. The material is extremely well cross-referenced, so that wherever the researcher begins, the path to related material is evident. The first two sections, “The Watermarks” and “Summary Paper Mill Histories,” present the core material, followed by a selected bibliography, a glossary, and three related indexes.
The “Watermarks” section consists of watermark images, each including a millimeter scale. They are organized alphabetically by watermarks that consist of names or initials (generally present on one-half of a sheet). Symbols (countermarks) that appear on the other half of a sheet are cataloged in sequence with name or initials watermarks from the same mold. Where symbols are not associated with watermarks, they are inserted alphabetically (e.g., Amies, Anchor, Andover, Arrow). The watermarks are referenced in a table at the bottom of each page that includes the watermark name or type and the source document (the collection in which it resides, place of use, and date), as well as the paper mill number (as listed in the “Summary Paper Mill Histories”). This format is much more useful than that in the 1979 edition, which presented this information in a separate section.
The “Summary Paper Mill Histories” consists of the authors' sketches of each mill, and includes location, duration of operation, and sequence of owners and papermakers. Most of the mills were small; many changed hands frequently or operated for only a few years. Mills are included in the summary only if their watermarks also are reproduced in the volume. The
authors anticipate that more detailed histories of these and other mills will be included in John Bidwell's eventual publication of a comprehensive directory of American papermakers to 1830.
The glossary presents technical terms and paper mill–related phenomena mentioned in the text and cross-references them to paper mill histories and bibliographical sources. The geographical index lists the location of mills that are the principal subjects of the summary paper mill histories. The authors emphasize that this information is incomplete and does not provide a statistical summary. The proper name index lists the principal parties involved with papermaking and the paper industry, cross-referenced to mill histories and watermark images. Finally, the iconographic index alphabetically lists watermarks consisting of iconographic symbols or of words other than papermaker and mill names, cross-referenced to the watermark images.
The foreword, introduction, and “Summary Paper Mill Histories” provide the most substantial reading. The authors discuss such subjects as mold construction and the alteration of a paper mold as it ages, subjects that can be read about in greater detail in bibliographical journals. The discussions of two sheet molds and of distinctive variations in water-mark placement in these and other molds are of particular interest. It was interesting to learn that double-wires appearing in many watermark letters derive from the thick line of a quill pen used in the downstrokes of letter formation, and that in water-marks this feature can be used to help determine the proper orientation of certain letters that can be read from either side of the sheet.
Information on the early use of papermaking machinery and experimentation with materials in American papermaking is included in the introduction and “Summaries of Paper Mill Histories” and cross-referenced in the glossary. This information includes the introduction of the Hollander beater in America in 1756; the Gilpins' endless papermaking machine, an 1817 American knockoff of the cylinder machine; George Shyrock's experiments with straw for paper-making in 1829; the Owen & Hurlbut mill's early adoption of papermaking machinery (the cylinder machine by 1833 and the calendar by 1834). With respect to wove papers, Thomas Isaiah's 1795 edition of Charlotte Smith's Elegiac Sonnet, and Other Poems is credited as the first book printed in the United States on wove paper. After 1807 almost all the molds ordered from Nathan Sellers were wove, and by 1820 wove paper had almost completely replaced laid paper, and machines were beginning to replace hand production.
One learns about common pictorial watermarks, some adopted from European papers, others of uniquely American design, such as the plow, a symbol of hard agrarian labor. Some American papers ordered with English names and devices such as Britannia designs (e.g., by John Craig in 1807) might be mistaken for imports. The authors include only a few imported papers that were designed for sale in the United States and whose origin might be mistaken for American, such as a Dutch paper water-marked with the 13-stripe flag flying from a ship. It also was interesting to learn the ancestry of companies that persist today, such as Crane, the producer of U. S. paper currency since 1879, and the Curtis Paper Company (James River Corporation).
American Watermarks, 1690–1835 is an excellent reference tool, with reader access to information and the extent of cross-referencing much improved from the first edition. The format also leaves ample room in the margins and around the watermark images, which is essential for researchers to make annotations and notes. In the best of all possible worlds, I would like to have seen two changes. Side-by-side placement of mark and countermark would help create a visual connection between the two (even though this information is available in the table at the bottom of each page). Also, the watermarks are printed slightly larger or smaller than the original 1:1 contact prints. Although the scales included in the images allow the viewer to extrapolate to the true size, ideally each image would be printed to scale to provide a more exact visual reference and allow for possible overlaying of tracings or negatives made with another contact method such as beta radiography. However, with this many watermarks, precise 1:1 reproduction of the images might be a daunting and costly task.
Gravell and Miller's publication is the source for information on watermarks in early handmade papers in the United States. The authors conceive of
this work as part of a collaborative effort, as a step in the evolving study of early American handmade papers that builds upon their own previous research and awaits research by others. To this end, they urge catalogers and bibliographers and antiquarian book and manuscript dealers to use their resources “to regularly expand the shared body of information to which paper historians and those who depend on them may turn in their work” for rewriting once again the history of American papermaking. Throughout the volume they suggest avenues for further research, encourage systematic observation of watermarks, and welcome publication of watermark additions to this volume in peer-reviewed journals. They add that subsequent presentation of such watermarks in a digital database will be a welcome and useful next step.
Specific ideas for further research include investigating a distinct class of marks in early American machine-made papers, stitch marks, marks that result from stitching together the ends of fine wire screens to form a continuous belt—the study of which may aid in dating papers. Fifty-six such watermarks are included; the authors feel certain they are American in origin and hope that their readers eventually will identify them. As for mill histories, they note that it remains for their successors to compile and publish full histories of American mills that particularly interest them, and they cite examples of existing studies to spur them on. For a project of more limited scope, researchers might identify the location of certain paper mills uncovered but not discovered by the authors. Or perhaps someone even will locate the Thistle watermark for Samuel Campbell's mill in Springfield, New Jersey, mentioned in one account.
- Nancy Ash
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- P.O. Box 7646
- Philadelphia, Pa. 19104
ROBERT E. SCHNARE JR. AND SUSAN G. SWARTZBURG, WITH GEORGE M. CUNHA, BIBLIOGRAPHY OF PRESERVATION LITERATURE, 1983–1996. Lanham, Md., and London: Scarecrow Press, 2001. 826 pages, hardcover, $89.50. ISBN 0-8108-3712-9.
There is clearly a need for a bibliography of preservation literature, and Robert Schnare and his co-authors have made a bold attempt to provide it. With 5,358 citations, this bibliography contains a wealth of resources. All the sources cited are in English. The book actually has two bibliographies, the first of which, “Bibliography of Preservation Literature, 1983–1996,” contains 5,170 references to print texts, listed alphabetically by author. The second,“Bibliography of Preservation Media Literature on the Conservation of Library and Archival Material, 1982–1997,” gives 187 references to slide presentations and audio and video recordings about preservation, listed alphabetically by title or institution. Most of the print references are briefly annotated.
The bibliography is fine for locating citations to broad topics, but it is somewhat limited in that the subject index generally assigns only one term per citation, and those selected are not always intuitive. For example, Randy Silverman's article, “Connois-seurship of 19th and Early 20th Century Publishers' Bookbindings,” is indexed only under “connoisseur,” and Aled Rhys Wiliam's article, “Restoration of the Book of Cynog,” appears only as the index entry for “Book of Cynog” but not under “restoration of manuscripts,” even though the annotation provides that information. While “Image Structure and Deterioration in Albumen Prints” (James M. Reilly et al.) is indexed under “photographic conservation, albumen prints,” a related article, “Cracking in Albumen Photographs: An ESEM Investigation” (Paul Messier and Timothy Vitale), appears only under “photo-graphic conservation.” There are few cross-references to related subject terms, and some of the citations listed do not seem to have an index entry at all. The author index appears to be accurate.
As one would expect, there is not a clear distinction between preservation and conservation literature, but some of the choices about what to include and omit are surprising. Nicholas Pickwoad's article about the problems associated with 18th-and early 19th-century Jewish books is included, while Mirjam Foot's article about international cooperation in preservation is not, even though both were presented at the same conference in Erice, Italy, in 1996.
In addition to the two bibliographies, the book includes a charming tribute to the late Susan Swartzburg and George Cunha, a glossary of terms, and an essay on preservation management in libraries. The preservation management essay is an overview of well-established principles. Since this bibliography's scope ends just as several new technologies were emerging, it marks a watershed in the field and thus offers an interesting historical perspective.
Although many of the entries will be in available databases such as Art and Archeology Technical Abstracts (AATA) or Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA), this bibliography contains some citations that are not otherwise easily found. It should be considered for specialized libraries.
- Karen L. Pavelka
- The Center for the Cultural Record
- Archival Enterprise, Preservation and Conservation
- Studies, and Museum Studies
- The School of Information
- University of Texas at Austin
- CDL 001D
- Austin, Tex. 78712-1276
PAMELA B. HATCHFIELD, POLLUTANTS IN THE MUSEUM ENVIRONMENT: PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR PROBLEM SOLVING IN DESIGN, EXHIBITION AND STORAGE. London: Archetype Publications, 2002. 203 pages, softcover, $39.50. Available from Archetype Publications, 6 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 5HJ; +44 207 380 0800. ISBN 1-873132-96-4.
This book evolved from a 1996 workshop on the preservation of museum collections that focused on air pollutants, primarily those that attain significant concentrations indoors and may present a risk to collections. The author's audience is broad, encompassing curators, conservators, registrars, preparators, and virtually everyone who at some time or other makes or implements decisions that influence the long-term care of collections—even including those involved in building construction. The author is not a scientist herself, and those who are, no doubt, will find details to complain about, but I, for one, was impressed by her effort and feel that the audience was well met and handed an intelligent and thoughtful discussion on a difficult topic.
The book begins with the obligatory back-ground review of sources of traditional outdoor pollutants that infiltrate the built environment and those whose elevated concentrations are due to construction materials, operational activities (like cleaning), and the aging of collections themselves. This section is brief but complete. The book soon concentrates on those pollutants known to cause damage to cultural artifacts and which are generated in close proximity to them. Much of this book centers on the sources, damage, testing, and mitigation of lower-molecular-weight carboxylic acids, reduced sulfur compounds, potential precursor compounds to more aggressive pollutants (aldehy-des), and oxidized sulfur and nitrogeneous compounds that derive from the deterioration of materials. It is made clear from experience and fundamental building physics that chemical and particle filtration in the museum's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, while providing much protection, cannot effectively be extended to areas of poor ventilation—display cases and vitrines being the most important examples. The emphasis is on the display environment, but it is obvious that everything said about display conditions applies equally to storage vaults and any location where works of art would be expected to spend long periods of time. Protective measures at the level of individual objects, enclosed in boxes, envelopes, even frames, are not avoided; they are just not as important to the scope of the book. Still, there is a nice discussion on backing boards applied to the reverse of stretched paintings and some early misconceptions about their efficacy. Fair enough.
Mitigation of pollutants in collections is all about knowing your materials. Since a great deal of literature exists on off-gassing and the volatile decomposition compounds of manufactured products, much of Hatchfield's work is tied to reviewing these articles, and she has not missed many of them. She is also in the enviable position of having tested examples of manufactured products herself over the years at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and there are frequent references to these results throughout the book. Some would consider this class of data “anecdotal” and marginally useful. At best, they might consider it outdated or, worse, nonstatistical materials science gossip. But these criticisms would say more about the egotism of the critic than about the value of the information. Hatchfield never makes more of this type of information than to state, this happened, here is my observation, take it for what it is worth. As such, it is a constant reminder of just how difficult materials characterization happens to be in an ever-changing world. If it were otherwise, this book would never have been written, for materials conservation would have been figured out already. It is also nice to see some important work on materials evaluation that Scott Williams at Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) has conducted over the years cited by Hatchfield. CCI is an invaluable resource for materials analysis, and this resource should never be underestimated.
Even for readers who will never be concerned about air pollutants and their effects on collections, the discussions on everything from floor coverings to ceilings is useful. (Believe it or not, many of these materials will end up in contemporary collections sooner or later, and it is good to get a jump on their future preventive care.) The author discusses, in a general way, classes of plastics, structural materials, adhesives, paints and coatings, fabrics, and paper products and then dives into what is known about the Mylars, Tyveks, Medites, Coroplasts, Ethafoams, and, yes, even the Ultrasuedes that make up so much of the display environment. We are frequently reminded of the menagerie of other classes of volatile hydrocarbons that evolve from nearly all commercial products including surfactants, plasticizers, blowing and antiblocking agents, unreacted monomers, biocides, 4-phenylcyclohexene (my favorite industrial odor: new carpet smell), and many more. While the connections with chemically induced damage have not been strongly made for many of these volatile organic compounds (VOCs), their ability to deposit on energetic, polar, or chemically similar surfaces makes them a source of disfigurement and, in some cases, irremovable accretions.
Hatchfield does a good job of compiling as much of the data as possible into almost 60 tables, not counting the 5 appendices. Some of these follow along the standard habits of previous authors: tables we have seen many times before and whose celebrity we still don't understand. For example, Table 3, “Proposed Standards for Pollutant Levels” on page 20, has caused more confusion than it has alleviated. In many instances, these “proposed concentration standards” (some being “proposed” for the last 20 years) are pure guesswork, very old and frequently unsustainable. I suspect this table is included because it is in every book ever published on the subject. But other tables plug obvious holes more effectively than have ever been plugged before. Tables 13–28 include simplified protocols for conducting all the current microchemical and incubator tests used to detect suspect materials that might be used in the construction of display cases or other microenvironments, including the current incarnation of the Oddy test. These are in the third section, which I predict will become the most dog-eared 11 pages of the book.
Yet it would be wrong to assume that this book is just a compilation of the literature—as successful as it is in that regard, it is not the whole story. Hatch-field has strong opinions about the dynamic nature of various phenomena, and the literature has permitted her to solidify them. For example, under some conditions, drastically reducing the ambient concentrations of a pollutant may encourage their release from surfaces (p. 56). Intuitively, few people would have a conceptual problem understanding that gases and vapors diffuse from suspicious porous materials and plastics. But it is a two-way street. Hatchfield points out that there is strong evidence to support the point that even nonhygroscopic building materials like cement and bricks can adsorb pollutants from another source and emit them at a later time—a property shared by many plastics, although the mechanisms might be different in each case (p. 82). Gypsum wallboards likewise could act as a “sink” and “source” (p. 84), and this dynamic equilibrium may extend to foams and elastomers (p. 92). Several references are made to the desorption of gases by adsorbents whose weak van der Waals forces permit both thermal desorption and solvent replacement of adsorbed pollutants (p. 115). This book provides ample doubt about the wisdom of reusing construction materials and some pretty significant doubt on the ability to know when to use or stop using old adsorbents. (Silica gel is an important exception because the act of reconditioning it alone drives out pollutants, and even periods as short as the one week necessary to equilibrate it to a specific humidity are sufficient time to effectively replace accumulated carboxylic acids, presumably with more water vapor. Given how ubiquitous silica gel is in museums, it is a bit surprising that more types of pollutant decay rate studies have not been done on it.)
Along with a lot of useful information in areas to be expected—sources of pollutants, damage to materials, testing materials as potential sources of pollutants, mitigation through well-thought-out construction measures—there are some missing discussions.
The discussion on determining the acceptable risks concentrations and defining No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Level (NOAEL) could have been stronger, and the section on measuring indoor pollutant concentrations is also weak. The former may not be perceptible to the target audience at all, but the latter certainly could be, as it is relevant to detailed materials testing. My idealized reason for these missing emphases is a belief that authors working in similar fields tend to talk to each other, at least once in a while, and are conservative when covering areas of expertise in which they are not strong or are about to be published by others. Jean Tetreault (CCI) has given considerable thought to determining what an acceptable risk might be and how to turn NOAEL into a realistic objective, while Cecily Grzywacz (GCI) will soon publish a dedicated work on measuring indoor concentrations of pollutants. It is understandable, then, that these two efforts along with Hatchfield's book will produce a cohesive whole with minimal overlap.
However, one section is unbalanced and probably represents the weaknesses inherent in the literature available to conservators—protecting objects with chemical and physical adsorbents in enclosures. This is the only section I take exception to. The discussions on desorption, activated carbon, and oxygen scavengers are more fleshed out than those on other materials simply because more has been published on them. Yet there is a potential source for confusion when “reactivity” and adsorption concepts become mixed in the same sentence. Hatchfield states, rightly, that most hydrocarbons are nonreactive in carbon. But I disagree that aromatic hydrocarbons are poorly held by carbon. The literature I have read insists the p-p bond interactions between the condensed carbon structure and aromatic VOCs ensure high capacities and strong [relative for carbon] bonding. For aliphatic hydrocarbons, the cumulative bond strengths from London Forces (a particular type of weak bonding derived from induced dipoles) inherent in larger molecules are much more important than the presence of a ketone functionality (p. 116).
Information about other physisorbents and chemisorbents relies a little too heavily, for my taste, on manufacturers' own published literature. I find it reasonable that SPZ zeolite could hold 10–15% by weight of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), but I have tested this zeolite after exposure to 200 ppm NO2 and never saw anything close to 40% weight capacity. In particular, I find curious the claim that Microchamber paper removes sulfur dioxide so effectively that it would not need replacement for thousands of years of use at ambient SO2 concentrations typical of Los Angeles (p. 122). If paper could be actually dated (which it can't) to 105 A.D., we would need to wait until 2105 A.D. before we could know, or can even suspect, that paper can even exist for thousands of years. That's quite a claim for an additive.
With these products, Hatchfield clearly distances herself from non-peer-reviewed sources of information with wording like “it is said,”“it is claimed,”“it is reported to be. …” This tack convinces me she is trying to make the best out of a less than ideal situation while simultaneously feeling compelled to provide the reader with what may be ultimately useful insights.
I was disappointed with the quality of editing. Even nontechnical editors have methods to judge the consistency of internal conventions. In the book, there are well over 100 conversions between parts per billion and micrograms per cubic meter. Both these quantities are common in the air pollution literature, and it is laudable that both are shown side by side, but invariably two or three significant figures (ppb) become four or five, occasionally even six or seven (mg/m3). In a few places, parts per million are calculated as ppb (by accident), making the resulting conversion off by a factor of 1,000. There are also juxtapositions of numbers. In addition, a few readers will also catch these beauties: (1) when DT as degrees C is converted to F there is no need to add or subtract 32 in these types of conversion; (2) “CnH2n+2” and “cm2s. cmHg” (p. 140, appendix 2). These latter typographical errors should have been caught by a professional editor. (It is not necessarily a fault of the author, because her eyes are bleary enough by the time copy and technical editing assistance comes along). I have assumed that discussions concerning polymers have been more closely checked; it is not my area of specialization. They read smoothly to me.
Nevertheless, given the merits of the book, it is hard to subtract too many points off an otherwise fine performance. The information is important, and it is clearly a growing body of knowledge that will only get tighter and more complete in future editions. The scope of the literature review is very good (the merits of spider plants and golden pothos simply do not come up that often in preventive conservation publications), and to the next person who contemplates asking the Cons DistList about ozone generators to mitigate flood or fire odors, please read about them on page 127. It is short and sweet, summarized in two words:“no way.”
Hatchfield and Carpenter's book Formaldehyde: How Great Is the Danger to Museum Collections? was a tentative first step into a subject with a lot of uncertainty. This book is a more mature and finished product about a subject we shall hear more about in the future. It is fitting that it is dedicated to the memory of Jane Carpenter.
The instructions to book reviewers read, “with book reviewing goes a moral obligation: … You are in honor bound to be scrupulously fair.” I hope I was.
- James R. Druzik
- Getty Conservation Institute
- 1200 Getty Center Dr.
- Suite 700
- Los Angeles, Calif. 90049
GREGORY LANDREY, ED., THE WINTERTHUR GUIDE TO CARING FOR YOUR COLLECTION. Hanover, N.H., and London: University Press of New England, 2000. 154 pages, softcover, $17.95. Available from bookstores or University Press of New England, Order Department, 37 Lafayette St., Lebanon, N.H. 03766; (800) 421-1561. ISBN 0-912724-52-8.
Have you ever received a call from a person who had a “quick” question for you and (by the way) knew nothing about conservation? Did you ever wish you had a reader-friendly text that you could refer the caller to? The Winterthur Guide to Caring for Your Collection—a compilation of chapters written by the senior conservation staff at the Winterthur Museum—is such a text. The first chapter is a discussion of general collection care and environmental considerations. Subsequent chapters discuss conservation science and the conservation of books, ceramics and glass, textiles, photographs, metals, paper, paintings, furniture, and gilded frames. The book closes with reference information about conservation organizations, analytical facilities, supplies, and suggested readings and websites.
The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs and diagrams, and the layout is extremely user-friendly. The illustrations are easy to understand and clearly demonstrate their purpose. Both photographs and inserts are captioned appropriately and expand on information found close by in the chapter. Each illustration is listed at the back of the book with descriptive information.
The Winterthur Guide to Caring for Your Collection focuses on communication and preventive care—not treatment. Each chapter covers the information a newcomer to the field of conservation needs for talking easily to a conservator. It also describes how care and analysis will affect objects. The inclusion of scientific analysis is a welcome and necessary addition to a comprehensive discussion of preventive care. The authors approach their subject area by raising questions and presenting scenarios for the reader. Any information given is supported by continuous reminders that the reader should contact a conservator for help. This approach defines the focus of the book, striking a balance between necessary information and communication to promote a dialogue to benefit the collection.
The chapters include subheadings to direct the reader to specific types of information, such as the nature of materials, construction, what you can do, and when to call a professional. Overall, the book accomplishes its goal well. Readers learn fundamental information about each subject area that should enable them to converse with a conservator. As in any text written by multiple authors, there are some inconsistencies in style and a few omissions. The paper chapter, for example, did not warn the reader against using Plexiglas over a friable surface. Some chapters provide more information or are organized more clearly than others. All of these points can be corrected easily when the book is reprinted.
The field of conservation needs to encourage authors to write both for their colleagues and for those interested in the field. Most people have some-thing they cherish, and not everyone has the courage to call a conservator and try to explain what they do not know how to describe. This book meets its goal by helping people bridge that gap. After finishing it, the reader clearly will be able to call a conservator or know how to properly care for the object until making that call. The Winterthur Guide to Caring for Your Collections is a successful book and one I will recommend.
- Shelley Reisman Paine
- Sculpture Conservator
- Shelley Reisman Paine Conservation
- 2407 Sunset Pl.
- Nashville, Tenn. 37212
RICHARD J. BOYLE, HILTON BROWN, AND RICHARD NEWMAN, MILK AND EGGS: THE AMERICAN REVIVAL OF TEMPERA PAINTING, 1930–1950. Chadd's Ford, Pa.: Brandywine River Museum in association with the Washington University Press, Seattle and London, 2002. 232 pages, softcover, $34.95 plus $7.95 shipping and handling. Available from the Brandywine River Museum, Route 1, Chadd's Ford, Pa. 19317. ISBN 0-295-98190-3.
This is the first book to take a serious look at a movement in American art that is of great interest to conservators. The tempera revival has so far received surprisingly little scholarly attention, perhaps because it is still too close to our time and because many of its practitioners were figurative painters rather than cutting-edge abstractionists (although, as this book points out, there are exceptions to the rule: Jackson Pollock and Mark Tobey are among the artists discussed). The book—and the exhibition of the same title that it accompanied (organized by the Brandywine River Museum and seen at that museum, as well as at the Akron Art Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas)— attempts to make sense of the movement by studying it from several distinct points of view.
The division of the book into independent essays suits the topic well. Art historians and curators will find required reading in both Richard Boyle's history of the movement and in the biographies of the artists compiled by Gene Harris. Conservators will read the book for Hilton Brown's section on the varieties of tempera technique and Richard Newman's essay on the application of analytical techniques to the study of tempera paintings. If the various audiences actually read the other sections, the book will help to build bridges between conservators and art historians.
In fact, this is one of a small number of books that have the potential for “crossover” appeal. Other recent publications that deliberately try to reach across the boundaries between paintings conservation and other fields are Anthea Callen's The Art of Impressionism: Painting Technique and the Making of Modernity, and Andrea Kirsh and Rustin Levenson's Seeing through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies.
Of course, it is also becoming more common to include a technical essay by a conservator in catalogs published to accompany major museum exhibitions, but often the section about technique seems isolated and has scant relationship with the rest of the catalog.
Technique has everything to do with this book, and, in fact, technique is the defining element in the essay by art historian and former curator Richard Boyle. Boyle's wide-ranging history of the tempera movement in America from 1930 to 1950 is therefore “technical art history” in a more literal sense than some writings by conservators (see David Bomford on technical art history in IIC Bulletin, no. 1 [February 2002]). Boyle unearths surprising nuggets, such as the fact that William Merritt Chase used egg tempera as early as 1886. Boyle emphasizes the importance of teachers, especially Kenneth Hayes Miller at the Art Students League and Daniel V. Thompson and Lewis York at the Yale School of Fine Arts. In fact, York's resignation from Yale in 1950 (because of disagreements with Josef Albers) and John Sloan's death in 1951 provided symbolic closure to the tempera revival, although, as the authors point out, the tempera revival still lives on in a number of painters, including Andrew Wyeth, whose work illustrates the cover of the present volume.
Hilton Brown's essay, “On the Technical Side,” begins with definitions, and in a sense definitions are at the heart of the problem of tempera painting for conservators. It is important for conservators to understand these techniques because they can cause specific problems of preservation, but the techniques varied enormously. Brown argues that the natural emulsions—egg and casein—are the only “true” tempera media, but he goes on to lay before us the bewildering variety of other materials, from gouache to mixtures containing wax, oil, and resins that have all been called tempera at various times. Brown discusses not only recipes for paint media, but also modern supports like Masonite and supports manufactured by F. Weber and the Durex Art Company (founded by Ralph Mayer's brother Herbert) beginning in the 1930s. Above all, the range and variety of materials and techniques reported by Brown reinforce the old conservator's dictum that we must learn to expect the unexpected, especially when dealing with experiment-prone 20th-century painters.
Richard Newman's essay “Analysis of Paint Binders” provides a primer on analytical techniques, going to some length to explain the potentialities and limitations of various methods of analysis. Newman's essay is detailed enough that it provides Fourier transform infrared spectra and chromatograms of samples from paintings as well as reference samples, but it is written clearly enough to be largely understandable even by nonspecialists. (Conservators might use this essay to help introduce a curator to analytical techniques—another instance of how this book might help to build bridges.) Newman then discusses the results of analyses of samples from seven paintings. The results are sometimes surprising, showing how materials can be miscalled tempera (reinforcing what Brown reported in his essay). On the other hand, Newman quite properly points out that because analytical techniques have their limitations, questions still remain about the exact interpretation of some of the analytical results.
Each essay is thoroughly illustrated, but it might take a while for the reader to get used to the system used for identifying the illustrations. When a work of art in the exhibition is referred to in the text, a number that refers to the exhibition checklist at the back of the book is given, but there is no indication of whether or not the image appears as an illustration in the book. This system makes sense if the reader were carrying the book through the exhibition, but it makes it more difficult for the armchair reader. Once readers get used to the system, they will realize that an illustration (if it exists) is usually placed near the text in question, so a few seconds of flipping pages will tell if the image they are seeking can be found. Because of the separate-but-equal treatment of the essays, some images actually appear two or three times. But when reading Richard Newman's essay, for instance, I would like to have known that some of the images illustrated there in black-and-white are also printed in color in one or both of the previous essays. The problem could have been solved by adding to the checklist entry for each painting a note stating whether it is illustrated in the book, on which page(s), and whether in black-and-white or color.
I couldn't help but notice a few mistakes that crept into the text. Doerner's Materials of the Artist was first published not in the early 1930s, as implied on page 170, but in 1921 (as is correctly reported elsewhere in the book). Ella Hendriks's name is misspelled (p. 19), and the pigment manufacturer Fezandie and Sperrle's name is misspelled twice on page 152. Rudolph Zallinger's Age of Reptiles mural (p. 59) must have been painted prior to 1966; the reviewer remembers the impression it made on him as a small child, which (sad to admit) was well before 1966.
But neither these small errors nor the slightly confusing illustrations detract from the importance of the book. A great deal of new information is presented, much of it laboriously compiled from primary sources. Brandywine Museum Director James Duff writes in the preface that he hopes the book will stimulate further research, and this may turn out to be the most important legacy of this book. With its multifaceted approach, it has laid a foundation upon which new knowledge can grow in several different directions. Tempera is a topic that is ripe for further study—not only additional analytical work that will help us understand the problems that sometimes develop in tempera paintings but also documentary studies of individual artists' techniques and related questions such as the appropriateness of varnishing works done in tempera. Gay Myers and I found masses of previously unpublished documents that led to our recent article about Curry and Marsh (JAIC 41 [Spring 2002]), and one can hope that others will be inspired to continue in a similar vein. We can also hope that this book will become a “crossover” hit, one that will help to open the eyes of curators and academic art historians to the importance of understanding painting techniques in understanding the history of American art.
- Lance Mayer
- Lyman Allyn Art Museum
- 625 Williams St.
- New London, Conn. 06320