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[BKARTS] Bonefolder Vol. 3, No. 1
Congratulations to Peter on another fabulous issue of the Bonefolder!
I've looked at it all, and was particularly drawn to the quality of
the images of handmade paper in Velma Bolyard's article on
"Papermaking at Wake Robin."
Gary Frost's lead-off article on the "Aesthetics of Book
Conservation" is an exceptionally clear exposition from the
bookbinder's point of view. I would like to see some discussion here
on book_arts-l about the points he raises, and also about the
aesthetics from the point of view of the librarian, curator,
collector and reader.
For example, to what extent are the aesthetic choices determined by
the owner's proclivities, budget, etc. Some people want books
restored so they look like they did when new, others want them to
look old and have the repairs blended in so they are invisible, like
the Bernard Middleton method. I've also been asked to make all the
repairs clearly visible. And there are those who want a book to be in
a simple functional binding that has nothing to do with the period of the book.
Are the stains, crude old repairs, and other signs of "degradation"
valuable information that should be preserved?
Daniel D. Stuhlman's article on "The Preservation of Torah Scrolls"
is somewhat troubling. It is simultaneously fascinating and filled
with enough peculiar "information" to make me question the accuracy
of the parts I know nothing about.
One of the interesting parts is that it points out the structural
difference between the Torah and the Megillah. The Torah has two
spindles while the Megillah has only one. But the article doesn't
provide a reason for this. For those not familiar with these forms,
it's not just true of the particular examples pictured. I have seen
hundreds of them, and every one was like this--one spindle for the
Megillah and two for the Torah. Perhaps there are exceptions I haven't seen.
I would suggest two reasons for this, in line with Gary Frost's
comments: a conservation reason and a haptic one. The Megillah of
Esther is read at Purim and then put away until the next year. The
Torah is read piece by piece over the course of a year, then rewound
and begun again. To unroll the Torah to today's reading, then roll
it back on a single spindle, and then unroll it again for the next
reading would put too much wear on it, and would be an ungainly act.
So it is unscrolled a bit for the reading and then put away on the
two spindles, ready for the next one.
The article points to the shortage of rags in the 18th century as the
beginning of paper deterioration, but we know that the rag shortage
started during the 15th & 16th centuries. Fresh white rags became
scarce, and the result was that dirty rags were bleached, and the
residual chemicals in the paper caused severe paper browning in many
early printed books.
Stuhlman writes about wood pulp paper:"It was not until the 1940's
that acid used in the paper's production was discovered as the source
of the fragility of the paper." Perhaps I am in error, but I thought
that lignin caused wood pulp paper to turn brown and crumble, that it
is inherent in the wood, that sulfate and sulfite chemical processing
is used to remove the lignin to keep the paper from deteriorating,
and paper mills making higher quality sulfate papers were doing so in
the late 19th century. The phloroglucinol test was popular for many
years among binders and conservators to test for the presence of
unprocessed ground wood. When present, we knew that even if the
paper tested pH neutral today, it would deteriorate over time due to
He presents the notion that clothing doesn't show the effects of acid
damage because "the material wears out or is outgrown before the acid
damage is evident." I saw an exhibit of Native American leather
garments that are hundreds of years old, and have seen Egyptian
leather items found in the ancient tombs. Methods of tanning from
widely different cultures. I thought that tanned leather is often
acidic, and may be harmed by an alkaline environment that can reverse
the tanning. Certainly some sorts of acid tanning are harmful, such
as the sulfuric acid method that the 1904 English bookbinders revolt
addressed. But the tanning of leather is a complex issue--look at the
difference between mimosa and sumac tanned skins. Clothing and
upholstery leather today is often chrome, aluminum or semi-veg tanned.
Although Etherington & Roberts is quoted n the bibliography, the
article states: "The term vellum is sometimes uses synonymously with
parchment, but there is a technical difference. Vellum is generally a
finer product produced from the skin of calves. Parchment may be from
sheep, goat, or cow skin." This is not the usage of the terms with
which I am familiar. I have calf vellum, goat vellum, and sheep
vellum in my shop, as well as calf and sheep parchment. I thought
that parchment was a split skin with flesh on both sides, and vellum
was either a full thickness skin or a split that retained the grain
side. Etherington & Roberts seems to support the common usage I'm
The Bonefolder, Vol. 3, No. 1, Fall 2006 Now Online at
Guild of Book Workers' 100th Anniversary Exhibition Online - Catalog Available
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