Ephemera: You never know what you’ll find in an old book

In the Preservation Lab, we received the Martin Family Bible and to our surprise found a clear, plastic sheet containing a bright pink ribbon with foreign language characters on it, along with five individual small hair braids, four black and one blonde, each tied with either a string or ribbon.  These braids were probably from early haircuts of the Martin children, but they are unlabeled, so we don’t know for sure.  My challenge was to build a clamshell box to hold and protect this family treasure and also to decide what do to with the ephemera.

I decided to encapsulate the pink ribbon, four leaf particles found on the braids, and each individual hair braid, and then build a protective portfolio to contain all the specimens.  On the back of each encapsulated item, I attached a Velcro coin to hold each item in its place inside the portfolio.

After the portfolio was completed, I could then construct the large clamshell box to house the very ornate and heavy bible.  The pages are very brittle.  Some had come loose over the years and were gently laid back into place.  These beautiful pages hold information on several births dating back to September 15, 1857, and a few deaths and marriages of the Martin Family.

I decided to go with a Talas brown Canapetta book cloth similar to the color of the bible and a natural, textured Canapetta book cloth to simulate pages.  I like working with this book cloth because of the eye appeal, ease to work with, and durability.  After the clamshell was constructed, I then used white Plastazote to cushion the bible and its metal hinges inside the box.  The portfolio also received a sheet of Plastazote underneath it as it rests on top of the bible inside the clamshell box.  I feel the ephemera  in the  portfolio and bible will be well protected in this clamshell box for many years to come.

I would like to know more about the story behind the little braids, but in this book the story has not been recorded.


  1. Terrific solution to an unusual find. Normally when we find hair in things, it’s not a good thing but these locks are a sweet remembrance.

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