Before and after treatment
Inserted material adhered with pressure sensitive tape
The beautiful plates are predominantly hand coloured engravings, and depict society women’s dress from 1800 to 1890, offering a fascinating impression of culture throughout the century. They are are taken from many different publications, including Lady’s Magazine and La Belle Assemble, and are in both English and French.
The other scrapbooks in the collection at Central St Martins Museum and Study Collection
The front board and endpaper before and after treatmentThe condition of the book was poor, and prior to treatment it was inaccessible to handling, display and research. The front board and endpaper were detached, and the textblock was damaged. The plates were distributed in an very unbalanced way, with some pages overcrowded with up to 13 plates, and others left blank. Upon discussion with the curator, it was decided that some plates could be moved in order to make the book functional again. The plates were to be kept in the same order as they were originally placed, and within the same time ranges as assigned by the dated tabs. As time was limited, a list of treatment priorities was drawn up for the plates, which included : pages with too many plates, those where the plate was extending beyond the foredge, and plates which were detached or detaching - due to failing tape. The aim of the project was to keep the integrity of the scrapbook while working to make the book accessible for handling and research.
An overcrowded page: thirteen plates adhered between two pages
The most common tape in the book was a rubber based adhesive with a clear, though discoloured plastic carrier- which when tested was cellophane. Several methods of tape removal were trialled (including the solvents acetone and petroleum spirits) and the most effective was found to be a heat spatula for the carrier, and cellulose powder used with a spatula to remove the sticky adhesive. Stain removal was not considered essential and so was not attempted. The plates were then repaired as required using 9 gsm maruishi and 20% w/v wheat starch paste.
As the plates had originally been hinged to the page using tape, it was considered important to create a sympathetic method of attachment. Hinges were made from 23 gsm kozo shi Japanese tissue, and were re-adhered to the textblock using wheat starch paste. It worked best when the plates were adhered to the right hand page, with hinges on the left side of the plate, as this allowed them to follow the motion of the page as it turned. This was not always possible, as some had to be placed on the left hand page, and have right hand hinges, or be tucked into the gutter in order not to catch when the page was turned. The plates were staggered on the page where appropriate to avoid the central buildup of material that had been causing the binding to bow in the middle.
The plates after treatment
The project met all of the aims set out, and the book is now fully functional as a scrapbook and available to be accessed. It was never anticipated that the book could be treated in its entirety during the time frame of the project, and so there is still work that could be further carried out to treat the plates and remove the remaining tape, and this can hopefully be carried out in the future.
Done! The scrapbook on display at the MA Conservation Final Show at Camberwell College of the Arts June 2014