We have recently begun a project, enlisting the services of Codex Conservation, to repair fragile volumes which were in too poor a condition to safely provide access to our users. We have just received back the two hefty volumes from the first batch – completely transformed from their previous sorry condition!
To give you a behind-the-scenes insight into the work that goes into rejuvenating these volumes, I have, with help from the treatment records and photographs provided by Ann-Marie Miller of Codex Conservation, detailed the conservation journey of the People’s Palace press cuttings.
To begin, newspaper cuttings from 1887-92 (QMC/1/17/2), a huge volume with detached covers, distributing the characteristic dust which is the enemy of archivist’s clean clothes everywhere – red rot. As noted in the treatment records, the spine had ‘distorted and collapsed under its own weight’. Poor quality leather binding further compromised the volume’s structure.
The programme of work was extensive, including surface cleaning, paper repair, the guarding of loose clippings, and repairing the covering boards as well as the binding. Blank pages were removed for structural reasons, and are now stored in a custom made archival folder. In its entirety, the volume occupied 39 hours of painstaking work.
The second volume of newspaper cuttings, 1889-98 (QM/1/17/4) represents another successful transformation. This volume was troubled with a detached spine, torn leather covering, as well as warped boards and collapsed binding.
Mechanical dry cleaning addressed the surface dirt, and damage to inserts and pages were repaired.
Ann-Marie, through a process of humidifying and flattening the boards was able to consolidate and reuse them, and was also able to reuse the existing covering leather over the newly created binding. Further work came in the form of the repair of the sewing to the text block, with resewing where necessary.
As is clearly evident from the above before-and-after photographs, the work undertaken has made all the difference to the structural integrity and general condition of these volumes. Careful handling will naturally still be necessary, but crucially we can now provide access to these fragments of the fascinating history of the People's Palace, as captured in contemporary press coverage.
Should you wish to consult these volumes or any other material from our collections, do get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment or make an enquiry.