A Lesson in Conservation

I am always looking to further my education and strengthen any conservation skills that I have. Understanding that there is a lot that I do not know I keep looking for resources that will help with one or another problem. I was familiar with the publication Preservation and conservation for libraries and archives by Nelly Balloffet, Jenny Hille, and Judith A Reed. Having seen a snippet of this work on google it looked like there was a procedure that I could use in conserving several old prints that are in our Manuscripts and Archives. Knowing that this a somewhat rare and expensive volume I ordered it from the Washington State University, Pullman campus, ILL.

Several weeks passed and I received the message that the book was now available at the circulation desk and to come and pick it up. Presenting my card there was a short wait until the staff member returned with the book. Unlike other times he hesitated and held the book back for a minute.

Paraphrasing our conservation, here is what transpired:

I want you to know that there is something wrong with this book. It has some sort of water damage. None of the other books in the bag were wet so it came from the lending library this way. We have noted this damage on the slip so that you will not be charged for it and we have extended the checkout for another two weeks.

Indeed the book was damaged! Just then one of my colleagues came up behind me. Thinking of the situation I held out the book, had him read the title, and asked him “What is wrong with this picture?”

I had more fun the rest of the day showing the book other other colleagues and noting the irony of the situation. The pictures below speak for themselves and I have edited them to protect the guilty.

DLWA Call Number: Z701 .B234 2005
Worldcat: Link

  • Title: Preservation and conservation for libraries and archives
  • Author: Nelly Balloffet; Jenny Hille; Judith A Reed
  • Language: English
  • Setting: conservation


A Mystery Pamphlet Binding

While cataloging the Ye Galleon Archive we ran across the pamphlet An account of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Californian Peninsula. This narrative of the native peoples of the peninsula of California was based on a work originally published by the Alsation Jesuit, Johann Jakob Baegert in 1773 as Nachrichten von der amerikanischen Halbinsel Californien : mit einem zweyfachen Anhang falscher Nachrichten. In 1863 parts of Baegert’s publication were translated by Charles Rae for the Smithsonian Institution’s Annual Report for 1863-1864.

One of the interesting features of this pamphlet is that it is bound with a printed cover and colored title page. The remainder of the interior appears to be the original Smithsonian Institution Annual Report removed from the original binding.

We have not been able to find any other examples of a special binding for this work. We know that Glenn Adams was clearly interested in, and spent his career, in publishing rare examples of Pacific Northwest History. Is this a template for a publication that he never produced, or is it an enhancement for his own collection? We will probably never know whether or not this is a unique binding.

The pamphlet cover
The Title Page

As we inspected the item there were some obvious condition issues. The top right section of title page was torn. It looked like someone had been playing with the pamphlet. Did a child get a hold of it and paste down the page? Were we looking at a difficult repair?

After worrying about how we would fix this, there was an ah-ha moment. The pamphlet was purposely pasted down on the front and back pages as the text of the facing pages were from the preceding and following reports. Did someone else see this and make the same assumption that we had: that the pages should not be pasted and tried to fix the situation?

The problem exposed
A deeper look

Thus, we are going to stabilize the paste-down and consider creating a box for the pamphlet. We will let you know what we come up for a storage solution and repair in a future post.

DLWA Call Number: F1246 .B14 1864
Worldcat: Link

  • Title: An account of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Californian peninsula, as given by Jacob Baegert, a German Jesuit missionary, who lived there seventeen years during the second half of the last century.
  • Author: Jacob Baegert
  • Language: English
  • Setting: book history, conservation