Book preservation

I recently acquired what I believe to be an original copy of both volumes of “L’Arte Della Stampa”. The paper is dry and flaky at the edges, one binding is broken, evidence of moisture (glass or vase mark.) on one cover. The paper is so fragile I’m afraid to handle it.
I would like to have it restored properly and prepped for archival storage. I’m in Richmond, VA: is my best option to contact the Book Arts program at Univ. of Virginia?
I tried to upload images of the covers but the image files wouldn’t load. Let me know if you want to see what I mean.

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Here goes:

I am trying to teach my grandmother (or grandfather) to suck eggs.

Since no one has mentioned it that there is “archival paper”, I must talk about sucking eggs. I started to keep family history, and as I worked in the same building as a printery which supplied some stationery items, asked about long-life paper; they said they could supply, but only in carton of 20 reams and a high price. I later worked out that not many people in my home town knew of this paper, so the turnover was probably non-existent.Then in Brisbane, I noticed the sign of the most notorious printer in Australia, asked at their stationery counter, and bought one ream for only a little more than 80 grams-per-square-metre paper. Still have most of it. But it should be kept in climate-controlled conditions, when it might last several centuries. It’s non-acid, but slightly off-white.

My church put some items into a glass bottle when the foundation stone was laid, but the seal leaked, and the paper was indecipherable when it was opened at the end of the century since the wooden building was erected.

Come on, comment and criticism please .


I find it helpful to know you believe the endeavor is pointless. If it exists, it will be dust eventually.

Most local Museums have some sort of archival skill/knowledge base. My local museum even has a restoration section that takes in outside jobs. Try your local networks. Its amazing what they do you know, 17th century wood, leather and paper maybe flax or linen all in one. Who knows. cheerfully they may tackle such a job.

to all

I have seen a Magna Carta, first issue.


Alan , Rumour has it you are mentioned in it mate !

Alan, treat yourself to a trip to Gutenberg museum to see original printed bibles, amazing. Prints and collectors will be more likely to have been made with “archival” papers….

collectors/commisioned books I mean.


Depending on when your book was originally printed (I suspect the 1890’s) it could very likely have been on paper with wood pulp content in it. If so, your paper may be beyond help because of the acidity created by the wood pulp.

Your options for trying to find out if they can be saved/preserved are a museum, library (a good one), university, or anitquarian book shop/delaer in your area. You can hopefully find someone who can do a professional evaluation for you. Cost will be another matter.


Peter Luckhurst et al

If I am the Alan you mean, I saw the Magna Carta at the Brisbane Expo in 1988. We went to Expo late in its time of showing, still crowded, could not see some of the street parades, had to wait for the next show of diving, guides (wearing Brisbane tramway (streetcar) caps (like French Legionnaires’ caps) would not let us sit on steps, only on the limited number of chairs. Similarly when we went on the zig-zag railway (steam) at Blue Mountains west of Sydney, we could not get on, too many Japanese tourists. Managed to get a seat on the next train.

I am trying to remember if I walked to Runnymede at the request of the barons, or was able to hire a horse. [This par a joke.]


Foolproof take the prize .
As mentioned there is little you can do with brittle paper , you cant tear these older books down and hope to re-sew and repair with much success umless you have months and months to play with it . soaking every page one at a time with chemical plasticisers and stuff i couldnt identify if i tried . It is an expensive process and in the realms of museums with huge budgets you may find people with the skills and patience to do it for you . In most cases you are best advised to have a slip case made to fit the book into ,this then contains the book with its spine to view .
Arresting further wear and damage . Home restoration is best described as destruction with very old books .

Alan Nankivell ..
The machines you had in your day were made from wine presses or something along those lines ? Walked ? horses ? I heard you were running after the maid who had the mead !!

to all

The Nankivells worked as miners in the coppermines of Cornwall, long before Magna Carta. Also other minerals in Cornwall. Some Nankivells were pirates in nearby waters. Joice Nankivell Loch, born in Australia, was given 11 medals of honour by various countries (Ireland, Poland, Greece, etc) for her work with refugees, circa 1930 to possibly 1960/70; very, very distant relation to me. Many Nankivells came to Aust and N.Z. One of the family which came to Gympie in Queensland became my grandmother; the family came out to mine for gold, which put Queensland on its feet financially; when Queensland separated from New South Wales, its treasury held money about equal to less than one week’s wages for an ordinary worker. (And someone stole that small sum before the gold rush.)

Does the Nankivell heritage of mining several metals qualify me for some connection with printing?


No, what qualifies you for a connection to printing is your apprenticeship with Gutenburg.


The high school tried to teach me Latin; what I can remember is something about the subjunctive, but I know not what that means:
A, ab, absque, coram, de,
Palam, clam, cum, ex, or e,
And unto these if “rest at” be intended
Let in, sub, super be appended.

Useful to recite to unwanted telephone callers?

I was too slow at reading Gutenberg’s handwriting and founts, I did not complete my apprenticeship with him.

But at the weekly (far North Queensland) an entrepreneur proposed a weekly newspaper in modern Italian; we tried a dummy run, proved to be not feasible, though I could set Italian at a reduced speed; bought an English/Italian/English dictionary.

Later at the morning daily, I translated some info in the book which came with the Nebitype and understood how the thermostat worked, the only one I have ever seen like it. But, no hope of translating long passages.

Also translated a warning in French with the help of a dictionary; it said, “This (racing bicycle) tyre must not be stuck on the rim”.


PS: Hope my proofreading is better than some of my efforts. — A.