Tag: rare books

A clean sweep of a herbal

A clean sweep of a herbal

Today I’m working on a treatment that is basically the rare book equivalent of cleaning under the couch cushions. This 2-volume herbal was used by a previous owner as a plant press, and many leaves, flowers and other assorted plant parts were discovered in-between its […]

Bibliopaths: The case of the lacquer binding |Rita Udina. Paper & Book conservation and restoration

Bibliopaths: The case of the lacquer binding |Rita Udina. Paper & Book conservation and restoration Are we supposed to fear bibliopaths? Or maybe we should give them an award? Who are they? They are victims of bibliophile passion, people touched by an irrepressible instinct to […]

Merry, Sparkly, and Bright!

illinoisrbml:

It’s that time of year when houses and trees glow with holiday lights and, here in the Midwest at least, cars and windows boast thin layers of glimmering frost each morning. A few of the books in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library are getting a sparkly coating as well, thanks to a phenomenon known as efflorescence.

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Efflorescence can affect a number of materials, including stone, concrete, and leather. It occurs when the amount of moisture in an object exceeds the amount of moisture in the air around that object. This causes the moisture to migrate towards the object’s surface. Once the moisture reaches the surface, it evaporates, leaving behind any salts that may have been dissolved in it.

Leather bindings often contain salts left over from the tanning process. If these salts are dissolved in any moisture that a book contains, then the drier air of fall and winter will bring them, in dissolved form, to the book’s surface. Once the salts reach the surface, the moisture evaporates, and they appear as a sparkly white powder. Fear not, the environment in the rare book vault is carefully controlled and kept at a constant temperature of 60 degrees with a humidity of 44%. Our conservators are never concerned about a little efflorescence in the winter.

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When books are sitting next to each other on a shelf, the efflorescence tends to appear only on their spines and top edges, as these are the only places where the leather is exposed to the air. The powder has no harmful effects, and a single swipe of the finger will remove it. As the weather warms, the holiday lights will come down, windows will no longer be etched in frost, and the efflorescence will fade. But we’ll know it’s there, waiting, a little bit of sparkle just under the surface. -BS

Efflorescence is often mistaken for mold, but a good way to tell the difference is:

1) it only happens to the leather-bound books (vs. a mold outbreak, which will affect neighboring books regardless of cover material)…and

2) there shouldn’t be any white powder on the paper (vs mold, which will often infect both paper AND cover material). 

Post ID: 7280

Dot Porter, Curator, Digital Research Services at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 189,  Zakhīrah-ʹi Khvārazmshāhī, by Ismāʻīl ibn Ḥasan Jurjānī. The manuscript was written in Persia in the 14th century, in Persian. It is a medical encyclopedia in 9 […]

Deckle-Fetishism | The New Antiquarian | The Blog of The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America

Deckle-Fetishism | The New Antiquarian | The Blog of The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America Deckle-fetishism seems to be a peculiarly Anglo-American affliction. I know French and Italian collectors, for example, who would prefer a book to be in a contemporary binding, rather than having […]

Post ID: 7391

3 examples of original paste paper from the 18th century.

Your Old Books – RBMS – Rare Books & Manuscripts Section

Your Old Books – RBMS – Rare Books & Manuscripts Section This guide addresses some frequently asked questions about rare and older books and their values. The answers are meant only as general responses to these questions, and many possible exceptions are not described. No […]

Testing confirms: Houghton book is bound in human skin

Testing confirms: Houghton book is bound in human skin Good news for fans of anthropodermic bibliopegy, bibliomaniacs and cannibals alike: tests have revealed that Houghton Library’s copy of Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame (FC8.H8177.879dc) is without a doubt bound in human skin.

Post ID: 9248

“Rare Book Conservator – Career Spotlight”

As Yasmeen Khan, a Rare Book Conservator at the U.S. Library of Congress says, “Books are like a mirror into the past.” Working at the Library of Congress gives you a chance to combine an appreciation for books with a love for history and preserving the past! Visit the Library’s website, loc.gov, for more information.