A few weeks ago, I wrote about a method for making your own custom cord. I had included an illustration of fiber to rope by Jane Dalrymple-Hollo, which mirrored a diagram from Tom Conroy’s 1987 article. A few days later, Jeff Peachey sent me a much earlier example of that same diagram from an 1842 issue of The Penny Magazine. This was quite serendipitous, as I am currently treating four volumes of that serial from our collection and I had already posted images of one in my post on book edge treatments. The illustrations in this magazine are just fantastic and the whole run is available through Hathi Trust. You can find the 1842 article about a rope and sail-cloth factory here.
Some recent acquisitions are in the lab this week for rehousing. We thought it would be interesting to peak at this small piece of illuminated parchment under ultraviolet light and a palimpsest became clearly visible. You never know what information may be hidden under normal lighting! For more examples, see previous posts on Preservation Underground and Bitstreams on multispectral imaging.
Yesterday we took a break from repair work to make heat set tissue. We followed the NARA recipe, tweaking as needed. We set up an assembly line to make quick work of it. We made about fifty sheets that varied in color and weight. We have some big digitization projects coming in, so it will be good to have a stockpile of this tissue ready to go.
This poor pamphlet got split in half when it got caught in the mobile shelving. It seems rather metaphorical. Can Conservation put the European Union back together again? Maybe. Or maybe we will just replace it with another copy. If only the other EU split could be solved so easily.
We currently have a small collection of late 19th and early 20th century cosmetic samples from our Advertising Ephemera Collection in the lab for stabilization and rehousing. The majority of the samples are little paper envelopes with loose powder inside, but one of them contained a fun little surprise.
This sample of Charles Meyer Exora Rouge was quite a bit thicker than the others and I could feel a tiny, rigid container inside. The adhesive on the envelope flap was easily released and inside was the smallest tin I’ve ever seen.
According to legend, St. Patrick chased all of the snakes out of Ireland in the fifth century. We see snakes occasionally here in the conservation lab – just in book form. This binding is supposedly covered in python and features some very colorful endsheets.
Last week a rather strange and amusing item came in for rehousing, prompting me to do a little research about its origin. This satirical engraving by Stephen College, fittingly titled Strange’s Case, Strangely Altered, was printed in 1680. The dog represents Robert L’Estrange, an English pamphleteer, fleeing the gallows from his alleged involvement in the “Popish Plot“. “Crack-Fart” is one of the many names given to L’Estrange. The British Museum has digitized their copy, which includes extensive contemporary annotations on the characters involved. Ironically, the printer was hanged and quartered for sedition a year later, while L’Estrange returned and was knighted in 1685 for helping to discredit the plot.
With the incredible diversity of Duke’s collections, you never know what will come through the conservation lab. For example, some of my recent treatments included a 17th century printed bookand a photograph album from the early 1990s. Despite the differences in format, materials, and subject matter between these two items, one common thread persists: big hair never goes out of style.
We got an amazing History of Medicine Collection artifact in the lab today for boxing . It is an anatomical birthing model dated to the 1890’s. The body and placenta are made of a soft suede material with red and blue yarn for the umbilical cord. The stitching that attaches each section to the main body is very finely done.
I don’t know the complete history of this item. But judging by the attention to detail on the hands, feet, and ears, along with the elegant stitching, you can tell this was a lovingly-crafted model.