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Re: [BKARTS] Map Conservation

"1.       Is it current practice to remove old fabric backings from maps
(even if the backing is in good shape and firmly bound to the paper)?
If so, is total immersion in successive baths of water the recommended
technique to loosen the backing?"

I think most conservators would direct their attention toward the maps
that are damaged. It is possible to remove backings with controlled
applications of moisture or steam, rather than immersion.  As a general
rule, you might want to wash the map, if it needed cleaning (after dry
removal of surface soil).  

If you aren't set up to do that sort of treatment, then don't start down
that road. You need a lot of space, custom made sinks (or in-floor
drains to make a temporary sink on the floor), and lots of skilled hands
to deal with these maps. I would contract out the oversized maps to a
big regional lab to deal with such items. 

"2.       If we remove the backing, do we re-back with fabric (per
instructions circa 1955 from the Library of Congress)?"

As far as I know, everyone is using Japanese paper for linings. I have
no idea what was being done in 1955, since I wasn't born then. When I
was working on a major map exhibit for a large history museum (ca.
2001), I ran across a 17th or 18th c. map treated by Christa Ghaede in
the 1960's, and it was lined with Japanese paper. There were several
others that had been treated by other labs in the 1970's, and they were
also lined with Japanese paper. (the Paper Nao machine-made Japanese
paper rolls make fewer seams; their papers are distributed with catalog
numbers starting with "RK" for rolled kozo and "RM" for rolled

"3.       If one doesn't remove the backing, but must mend tears in the
totality of the object, does one proceed with Japanese tissue and wheat
paste/methyl cellulose applied to the fabric backing?"

If there are only a few tears, they can be mended locally without
relining. I have used Mylar to feed mending tissue in between the lining
and the map.  I have also used BEVA film and a tacking iron to apply
repairs to the back of a cloth lining. The BEVA wasn't really
satisfying, but the client institution couldn't afford full treatment.

Valinda Carroll 

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