Archive for the ‘Preservation & Conservation’ Category

19
May

Football film archive

   Posted by: rring

athletic filmsThe College Archives has taken possession of what turned out to be 33 banker’s boxes of films (mostly fooball) from a storage unit on campus. The earliest films are from the late 1930s, and they seem to go up through the 1980s–games with other colleges, practices, training films, etc. We will be hiring students to produce an inventory, and creating a plan to better preserve and house these films, as well as looking to digitize the more significant footage for the use and enjoyment of our alumni, finances permitting! To facilitate this, we have borrowed a viewer & board to examine the films.IMG_20170519_113449

 

 

3
Oct

Going boldly

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Ashley Esposito, a graduate student in American Studies doing an internship in the Watkinson]

AshleyLeigh Couch Collection in progress…

I have been a fan of contemporary science fiction and comic movies/series. Yet my love for written works and reading is relatively new in comparison. So when I was offered the opportunity to work on the Leigh Couch Collection of science fiction magazines at the Watkinson, I was a bit overwhelmed. As part of this project, I will clean, categorize, and inventory this collection while trying not to get too distracted by its content. That is likely to be easier said than done.

The collection is approximately twenty-five standard banker boxes with neatly stacked volumes that are grouped and wrapped in plastic. They were stored in a barn so have varying conditions. Although it is a work in progress and will continue to be for many weeks, I am already beginning to discover hidden treasures.

 

stargateThe work is slow and repetitive but seeing my first 120 volumes air drying was worth it. So far I have found at least three covers that remind me of favorite contemporary works, diverse images that speak to the duality of science fiction and their fans and even a cover that appears to be printed to be viewed with 3-D glasses. I will let you know how that works out once my newly purchased 3-D glasses arrive in the mail for me to view the cover again.

cleaned cartI have barely scratched the surface of this generous donated collection and have found more than a few ways to let my mind wander and enjoy. That is really what science fiction is about for me. As Robert Frost wrote; “Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference.”  Here is to the less traveled road.

 

26
Jul

A nip and tuck for the Audubon

   Posted by: rring

audubon conserve

[Posted by Sally Dickinson, Associate Curator & Preservation Librarian]

In June & July we hired one of our favorite conservators, Jean Baldwin, to work in the Watkinson one day a week to repair some damaged areas in John James Audubon’s Birds of America. It was the second time Jean had worked on the set–in 2012 she repaired volumes 1 & 2. The books have inherent structural issues due to their size and weight (plates were originally published unbound and shipped 5 at a time, rolled up in metal mailing tubes, to subscribers, and generally bound together at a later date). This summer Jean worked on the 3rd and 4th volumes. In volume 3 the first gathering of plates had pulled away from the binding. Jean trimmed the stiff linen stub at the front which was damaging the plate and resewed the plates into the binding. She also repaired tears with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste, switching back and forth between the 2 volumes to give the paste time to dry. Next summer she will be able to finish the work she started on volume 4.

19
May

Thanks and Good Luck!

   Posted by: rring Tags:

[Posted by Sally Dickinson, Associate Curator & Preservation Librarian]

gaia cloutier blogGaia Cloutier ‘16 worked as a student assistant in the Watkinson Library this year. Gaia came to the job with some prior knowledge of books gained through taking Jonathan Elukin’s class on the Bible and History of the Book. She spent the year working on a special collection of books called the Cage collection. Gaia cleaned, inventoried, verified catalog records, and barcoded call flags which we place in the books (not on the book itself). This collection was originally the rare books collection of Trinity College. Because the books were enclosed within a metal gate, the area became known as “the Cage.” The books range from 17th century histories in multiple languages to books bound in parchment, to Japanese books with color woodblock prints. Some of the older tomes have issues that compromise their structure. Special boxes will be made for these volumes. Timing was perfect: Gaia finished the project the final week of classes at Trinity. Thank you, Gaia!

13
Aug

2nd Folio in a new dress, ready to party!

   Posted by: rring

IMG_3229I am pleased to welcome back the 2nd Folio of Shakespeare, just in time for the fall semester!

Acquired by the Watkinson in the spring of 2012, the book was cleaned and repaired in February by Marie Oedel, who does conservation work for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (among other places). Marie generously donated about 30% of the labor involved–which came to over 40 hours of cleaning and repairing!

We then had to replace seven (7) missing leaves from the book, which were reproduced lettepress (from polymer plates) by Scott Vile of the Ascensius Press from scans of the copy at the John Carter Brown Library (Brown University).

Finally, we had the book bound in full leather by Sam Ellenport, a master binder, who used materials and designs consistent with books bound in England in the 1630s.

It is now ready to take up permanent residence in the Watkinson stacks, and to be shown to classes and consulted by researchers!

 

17
Feb

Help us restore the Bard!

   Posted by: rring

2nf Folio bindingAs many of our readers know we acquired a “2nd Folio” of Shakespeare in 2012–the second edition (1632) of the first complete collection of the Bard’s plays ever printed (the first was in 1623). This copy resided in the possession of one family for generations–back to the mid-19th century, in fact–and although they took care of it, nothing in the way of conservation has been done to the book in over 150 years.

The 19thC binding is falling apart, the sewing is coming undone, there are water stains, inactive mold, paint and ink marks, food remains, and just a general level of grime present all through the book. Every page must be cleaned with brushes and dry-cleaning erasers, tears in the pages mended with Japanese paper, older (and clumsier) repairs must be fixed or undone and re-done, and fragile edges reinforced so that the binder can put it all back together (including facsimiles of the seven missing leaves).

We have selected Marie Oedel as our conservator–who serves in that capacity to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Library (please see her website for her many credentials). Our binder is Sam Ellenport, a master of his craft who ran the Harcourt Bindery in Boston for 40 years.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 for this project–please e-mail richard.ring@trincoll.edu if you would like to help!

Here are some pics of water damage, mold, and tears present in the book:

IMG_8647IMG_8593IMG_8585

23
Sep

Early, scarce map of NYC

   Posted by: rring

As a curator, keeping one eye on the rare book trade not only means that I see possible opportunities for acquisition–it also serves to focus attention on overlooked items. Here is my most recent “re-discovery.”

John Randel, The City of New York as laid out by the Commissioners with the Surrounding Countryside (New York, 1821).

A copy of this map recently came up for auction in New York, and although the one for sale was printed on satin (and is therefore much more valuable on the collector’s market), ours is still a scarce and important copy (one of only two or three known). We have contracted with a conservator to address some condition issues, to ensure this map can be used and displayed. Here are “before and after” pics–our conservator, Sarah Dove, worked miracles!

NYC Map B_A-1

Here is excerpted text from the lot description (Swann Auction Galleries):

As New York City entered the 19th century, It became clear that plans for its expansion northward were in order. The narrow streets from the early Dutch and English settlers could no longer handle the increasing population. This was coupled with an increase in disease spawned by the close quarters of the city at that date.

In 1807 the Common Council of the city petitioned the State Legislature to create a Board of Commissioners to oversee the laying out of a future street system. The board was created and mandated to finalize its plans within a four year period. Governor Morris, Simeon de Witt, and John Rutherford became the commissioners. Simeon de Witt had been the Surveyor General for the state and had become impressed with the work of one of the surveyors under his charge, namely John Randel.

Randel was hired as chief engineer and surveyor for city. He began his work soon after. Though Manhattan Island was hardly a wilderness, it contained 60 miles of running streams, around 20 ponds and lakes, as well as hills, valleys and plateaus. With some surveying instruments of his own devise, Randel set to work. The difficulties of topography were not the only obstacles he was to encounter. Free-holders and lease-holders on the land being surveyed were fearful of losing their land and their rights. Randel was arrested a number of times for trespassing, and just as many times released on the order of the City Council.

Randel finished his project a bit ahead of schedule. The survey overlaid with the now famous grid street plan was ordered to be prepared for publication under the direction of William Bridges. Peter Maverick, the well known engraver, was chosen to engrave the map. The map map appeared in 1811 (Haskell 651) and is based almost entirely on the survey conducted by Randel, with some additions by Bridges. Randel’s name did not appear on the map. Thus began a long and acrimonious relationship between Randel and Bridges. Randel claimed that Bridges had not copied his survey faithfully and that it was full of errors. Randel took charge of the survey and embellished it further. He was set to have it published in 1814 but decided against it -the British had recently burned Washington and Randel feared his map would be too great an aid to the enemy should they decide to attack the city. The manuscript copy of the Randel embellishment is currently under the protection of the New York Historical Society.

In 1821 the finalized version of the map appeared under Randel’s name (his name appears 3 times on the map). The grid system begins with 1st street and runs northward to 155th street with the streets running from east to west. It is intersected by 12 avenues running from south to north. It is the grid which modern day inhabitants and the city’s many visitors have come to count on for easy navigation of the metropolis.

The Randel map was printed on paper and a very few seem to have been printed on satin. The only other existing copy on satin that we can locate is held by the New York Public Library, gifted by the well-known New York iconographer I. N. Phelps Stokes, who had acquired it from Randel’s nephew.  Two paper copies are known.

In addition to the great importance this map bears in its relationship to the mapping of the city, it is a beautiful map to behold. In addition to the grid plan for New York City, there are incorporated maps of parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island as well as an inset of the city of Philadelphia. These are neatly overlaid on one another and with a trompe l’oeil effect they appear to roll in upon themselves.

For the fullest and most succinct history of the evolution of the map, Augustyn and Cohen’s Manhattan in Maps should be consulted.

 

5
Oct

Keeping an eye on the environment!

   Posted by: rring

One of the more important aspects of overseeing a facility the size and value of the Watkinson is to control the environment.  Leaky pipes, faulty HVAC systems, cracks in the foundation, and vermin (mice, bugs, naughty readers) are all potential threats to the collection, and must be kept at bay through CONSTANT VIGILANCE.  Fortunately, Associate Curator Sally Dickinson is on the case, as she reports on a recent activity:

“This September I attended a 2-day workshop on “Sustainable Preservation Practices for Managing Storage Environments.”  R.I.T.’s Image Permanence Institute presented the workshop at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.)  Curators, librarians, and facilities professionals attended, including staff from the Smithsonian Institute and other cultural organizations in the Northeast.  We had a crash course in how artifacts age, what makes an optimal preservation climate to prolong the life of materials, and how to achieve these conditions through sustainable use of climate control systems.  The Image Permanence Institute is a leader in the research of how materials age and climate management strategies for cultural institutions.”