Monday, 21 July 2014

Time Capsule Contents (Continued) - July 19, 2014

July 19, 2014

Handwritten Page 1 - enhanced
Perhaps the most important artifact in the Time Capsule from June 19, 1929 is the seven handwritten pages discussing the Kings County school at the time.  The title on the first page is Kentville Schools and there is no signature at the end which likely signifies it is a short history of the school rather than a personal account.  From the first paragraph mentioning a report from 1888 it captures our attention considering it may hold information from that time until 1929.  I have a photograph of the first page which will help to set the tone for future transcription and exhibit.  Our intent is to show these pages sealed in mylar envelopes to prevent deterioration.  Mylar is used because it is inert and has been proven to be safe for longer term storage and display.  Mylar is one of several choices (polypropylene bags being another) in comic book storage particularly for Golden or Silver Age comics but also for any truly valuable comics.  Either types of bags are clear so can be used for display purposes. However, polypropylene bags may yellow over a longer period of time so is not the best choice.  Additionally, we can keep each page in the mylar envelope with an acid free backing board to ensure that it will not bend.   It is best for these pages to be unfolded once only and stored flat which we have now done.  Repeated unfolding may damage them.  Think of them as fibrous material which may break from repeated bending.  These pages are currently stored unfolded, flattened and in acid free folders pending purchase of mylar envelopes (on order).  Displaying them in an exhibit in mylar envelopes can allow for viewing of the pages which will show the public the handwriting, fading, staining, etc. of the original.  These are all important parts of the history of the artifact. 

Handwritten Page 7 - enhanced
Transcription of all seven pages will be done.  As you can see by the photographs there is some fading along the right side and water damage in a few spots.  This next photograph shows the last page which will be a challenge to transcribe due to more serious fading from water damage.  However, with the use of image enhancement software we can attempt to bring out the more faded writing.  You can also see that there is no signature at the bottom.  This begs the question, who is the author?   

Inks used in writing from the time period as with many other inks will fade over time.  Direct sunlight is particularly damaging so these pages will be displayed and stored away in a carefully controlled low light setting for exhibit and stored in acid free boxes for longer term storage in a humidity and temperature controlled environment.

I mentioned in the last post that there are techniques to bring out faded writing.  There are two worth mentioning: ultraviolet light (UV-A light or black light) and infrared light.  Both are light at a longer wavelength and depending on the ink used each may work better.  Since ultraviolet is the easiest and lower cost we would normally try it first.  It is commonly used to authenticate oil paintings, antiques, and bank notes.  Infrared light is more challenging because it uses more expensive equipment in a special setting.  The phrase "infrared reflectography" is used for a technique that will show underlying layers in oil paintings such as drawings used as a guide by the artist.  I mention these for use with the handwriting on the inside corner of the time capsule lid and possibly for some of the faded writing in the handwritten pages if it is necessary.

Conservation Tips:

Use mylar envelopes for storage of fragile paper, pamphlets, etc.  You can purchase these in various sizes from comic book stores or on-line.  Although more expensive than polypropyline it is well worth the extra expense.  Measure your artifact first to determine the best size to use.  Note: modern comics are smaller than 8.5 by 11 standard page size so be sure to order the correct size.  Most comic stores (at least in my area) stock the modern comic size only.

Always keep fragile papers away from direct sunlight and strong lighting of any kind.   Light is particularly damaging to inks and some papers.  You can bring these artifacts out from time to time to look at them but minimize light exposure.  In a museum environment lighting may be set to come on when someone enters a room to view them or limited to only a few hours of viewing.

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