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Old nautical chart
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Old nautical chart
- From: Joyce Jenkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 11:23:26 -0800
- In-Reply-To: <200010201527.HAA06911@news.mitkof.net>
- Message-Id: <200010201918.MAA28410@palimpsest.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
A friend came by for an old nautical chart, looking for advice on how to
preserve it. I thought I would share his questions and my thoughts on them
with the list since it is related but not the same as books I have worked
with. It really is cool. We live on an island in Southeast Alaska, the
part that hangs down off the coast of Canada. The chart shows the LeConte
Glacier coming down two miles farther down into the fjord than it does today
and a small glacier on top of Horn Cliffs that isn't there at all. The
U.S./Canadian border is not shown because it hadn't been decided. Of
course, what's printed on the chart doesn't affect the questions about it,
but it really is a historical treasure, and I wanted to give you all in the
far-flung, all-looks-the-same on the internet world some idea of where I am.
The chart is large, 32.5 by 40 inches. It is heavy and obviously tough
paper, considerably thicker than a modern nautical chart. The paper has a
very smooth finished feel, not slick or coated but certainly the opposite of
fuzzy. It was obviously rolled for many years and has bumps and valleys as
a result. The part that was exposed is soiled. There are a few spots in
one corner that look like they could be mold, but they are not bad and not
many. (Other spots I thought were mold turned out to be mountains. This
chart shows much more of the topography of the land than usual on a nautical
chart because there was interest in mining around the Stikeen River.) All
four corners are torn off as a result of being thumbtacked to a wall.
At some point the chart was town completely in half and there are other
tears and creases. It was repaired (you guessed it!) with tape on the back.
That was at least thirty years ago. But the tape is in surprisingly good
condition. The paper is somewhat yellowed beneath it, but not as much as I
would expect. Most of the tape is very firmly adhered. Lifting a tiny bit
was tricky and brought a thin layer of paper with it.
Since 1972 the chart has been stored on a piece of plywood with a cover of
the thick clear plastic that is meant for making storm windows. I cut some
Dan Smith Archival paper to size and put it between the chart and the wood
Here's the questions:
1. How to remove the bumps from being rolled?
I know about vapour chambers made by putting the item in an open container
and setting that container inside a covered garbage can with some water in
it. But it would require big containers even if the chart were loosely
rolled. We thought of just leaving it lying around in Dave's net shed for a
2. Should I (or someone) try to remove the tape? Is the surface of the
paper too smooth to repair with Japanese tissue and wheat paste? I suppose
the only way to know is to try it.
3. Cleaning. He experimented with one of those bags with eraser crumbs in
it. It didn't damage the chart, but it didn't do much in the way of
cleaning either. I know people on this list have talked about washing
paper. If that is the recommendation we will probably try to find someone
else to do it, since I have never done it or seen it done.
4. Mounting. He would like to frame it. He can get museum board to
replace the plywood. A good framing book or gallery owner can probably
answer our questions on this, but is you have any thoughts, chime in.
5. Cost. I know, you probably can't say anything about this with out
seeing it and knowing exactly what work needs to be done. He was just
wondering if we're talking $100 or $200 or $500. Anyone want to make a stab
at that one?
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