For those of you who followed Clare’s posts about the work she was doing on our two very badly damaged lead mining account books: the conservation is now finished. Clare went on maternity leave a few months ago (a boy!), but we were lucky enough to be able to recruit newly qualified paper conservator Madeleine Marshall to finish off the project. Clare’s last post described how she washed all the pages of the 18th century volume, so let me explain what happened next…
Once all the pages were clean, they needed to be repaired so they would be safe to be handled again. You can see in the photographs how Madeleine carefully needles out infills for the missing areas – basically we put new hand made paper where the original paper has crumbled away. We also sandwich the page between two sheets of very thin tissue, made from manila fibres, which gives it extra strength without obscuring the writing. To stick it all together we make up our own adhesive, wheat starch paste, so we don’t add any potentially damaging chemicals to the documents.
The repaired pages are then re-assembled in their book sections and re-sewn:
Once we have our textblock we attach new boards:
Then we cover the book in book cloth:
During the project we managed to turn this jigsaw puzzle
into these readable sheets
and this disintegrating book
into this readable one
If you’d like to see either the actual volumes or their digitised images, ask for D7925 (the 19th century former jigsaw puzzle) and D307/B/19/1 (the 18th century rebound volume).
We remain grateful to the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust for their funding.