TSLAC Conservation recently completed a challenging treatment on the House Journals of the Republic of Texas, 1842. This volume features a rare, contemporaneous account of the Archives War, a colorful incident in Texas history with special significance to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
The volume’s pages have become unusually brown and fragile over time, likely a result of the materials used to make the paper. Tape has been extensively applied on the many resulting cracks and tears. This tape has caused further staining. Institutional goals for this treatment were to reduce tape staining only in the Archives War section, leaving other stains and paper issues for another day. This established three major treatment challenges: 1) removing tape from very fragile paper; 2) working in situ, inside the bound volume; 3) avoiding tidelines and paper discoloration that would create a mismatch with the rest of the book.
Extensive testing was undertaken to devise a treatment method. Testing focused on a variety of solvents, solvent mixtures, and application methods. The final strategy for most of the tape was:
- Remove the plastic carrier by applying ethyl acetate with Tek Wipe fabric through the non-taped side of the paper;
- Soften the adhesive by applying ethyl acetate with cotton swabs, then gently remove it with a microspatula;
- Reduce the staining with ethyl acetate applied with a Fuller’s earth poultice, which slowly wicks discoloration out of the paper;
- Mend with heat-set tissue.
Tek Wipe is a non-woven blend of cellulose and polyester used for cleaning, washing, and drying in conservation treatments. It is more flexible than traditional blotter, so it follows the contours of the book’s pages and reduces the risk of tears. Working with solvent in small areas over Tek Wipe minimized tidelines. Other treatment strategies for occasionally-used tapes included applying water-based gel, heat, and mechanical action.
At last, the tape is gone!