Along with our wishes for a happy new year, we’d also like to say thank you to our readers for making last year such a rewarding one for us.  We appreciate your shared insights and feedback, and thank you for being part of our virtual preservation community.

2013 is already off to an exciting start, beginning with a frozen pipe which burst in the offices of our Special Collections and Archives over break.  Since I was basking in the Arizona sunshine at the time, Hilary will fill you in on the details of that escapade next Tuesday.  We’re also in the midst of our search for the 2013 Lennox Foundation Intern; if you or someone you know is planning to apply, please note the January 17 deadline.

Parks Library, Iowa State University

Parks Library, Iowa State University

As we look ahead to the rest of 2013, are there any favorite topics you would like to see us revisit?  We’ve covered topics as diverse as disaster response, conservation treatments, digitization projects, book and paper arts, commercial binding, reformatting, book reviews, conferences, sustainability, whimsical quizzes, and local preservation events.  Are there topics we’ve never discussed that you wish we would?  Guest bloggers from other departments of the Library from whom you’d like to hear?  Join our conversation!

Wishing you all a productive and fulfilling 2013!

These are close-up images of some common conservation supplies and equipment from the ISU Library Preservation Lab.  If you work or have worked in a book and paper conservation lab, do you recognize what they are?  Even if you haven’t worked with these items, can you guess what they might be?  Answers follow the images.










1. Blade/back-guard of an electric guillotine.

2. Medium-grind vinyl eraser crumbs.

3. Gauge and tubes atop the paper deacidification spray unit.

4. Clamp of the job backer (used to hold books with spine upright for binding).

5. Hammer and anvil of the Minter ultrasonic encapsulator, used to “weld” sheets of protective polyester film together.

6. Bamboo and horsehair strainer for straining cooked wheat starch paste.

7. The foot pedal of the board crimper, which allows us to fold thick sheets of board.

8. The screw of an antique bookpress.

9. The counterbalance on the board shear; it assists in raising the board shear’s large cutting blade.

Fakes, forgeries, fabrications, and facsimiles are 4 “F”s that are often heard together when it comes to authenticating questioned documents, artifacts, and works of art.  Each connotes something slightly different:

Fake generally means a document, artifact, or work of art which has been altered in some way to appear older, more valuable, or more unique than it actually is.  Fake might also refer to a facsimile (see below) which is being passed off as a genuine item.

Forgery refers to a fraudulent imitation of a genuine, extant document, artifact, or work of art.  A forgery is created with the intention to deceive.

Fabrication suggests something akin to forgery, with the exception that a fabrication may be a document, artifact, or work of art that never, in fact, existed.  Such a work might be introduced as a “lost” version of a play by a famous playwright, for example, or a “previously undiscovered” portrait by a famous painter.  A fabrication does not have to imitate an existing item in minute detail; it need only have characteristics consistent with the time-period, place, and tradition it purports to be from, and also have a persuasive provenance.

Facsimile is perhaps the most benign of the group.  While fakes, forgeries, and fabrications suggest a deliberate intention to deceive, facsimile denotes a detailed reproduction which is not necessarily intended to be taken for the genuine item.  Facsimiles might occasionally be believed to be authentic by a well-meaning but unknowledgeable person, or they might be exploited by a knowledgeable yet unscrupulous person.

The National Association of Document Examiners is one national organization which credentials forensic examiners and graphologists who are trained in questioned document examination.  Appraisers and conservators often know a great deal about authenticating documents, but are not necessarily credentialed (or qualified) to do so.  They may often be consulted in conjunction with other forensic specialists.

"Solemn Oath" by Dmitri Moor (1919)

This privately-held, Bolshevik propaganda poster designed by Dmitri Moor is a facsimile — and perhaps also a fake, since the seller did not readily disclose to the buyer that the poster was not original.  (Click on the image to see it in a higher resolution.)  The paper is a thin, wood-pulp paper that is darkening slightly with age, which is consistent with the time-period during which this lithographic poster would have been printed.  However, there is a clear visual clue which indicates that this is a digital reproduction of an original poster.  Can you see it?  Share your guess in the Comments, and we will post the answer next week.

I’ve been doing a lot of tape removal these days.  You have to expect a lot of tape when treating plans that the university has been actively using for many decades.  I am down to the last of the campus plans, a  lovely blueprint entitled The Suggested Arrangement of Campus in 1916, which came with thirty-three not so lovely pieces of tape on the back of it.  Just as I was seeing the light at the end of that tunnel, Special Collections sent over a pile of books with holding information taped to the inside covers.

This month’s quiz is more of a question than a quiz.  I’m curious to know how much time you think it would take a new conservator to remove the holding information from eleven books versus how much time it would take her to remove an eleven-centimeter piece of tape from an old blueprint.  Guesses are more than welcome.

Since Martha is on vacation this week, the August quiz-of-the-month will be brought to you by the August, 1971 Kitchen Klatter magazine.

A Pan Does It

(all answers will begin with the word “pan” – we will help you out with the first one).

  1. A flower. (Pansy)
  2. A food.
  3. To beg.
  4. A remedy.
  5. An animal.
  6. A discussion.
  7. Provisions stored.
  8. Great fear.
  9. Part of the body.
  10. A passing scene.

As usual, we will post the answers in the Comments section next week.

I’ve been helping the Ames Historical Society create a five-year preservation plan.  As part of the project I did a collection survey and discovered something I thought would make a nice quiz of the month.  I hope you agree and that we can have a bit of fun with this one.

The society has a collection of artifacts from the Whatchamacallits and Thingamajigs Collection of Don Faass.  The problem is that they don’t know the name or purpose of many of the items in the collection.  I took photos of a few items and was wondering if anyone (or perhaps anyone’s parents or grandparents) knew not only the name of any of the items but also the purpose.  Please post your answers or guesses (especially the wild ones)  in the comments.

Whatchamacallit #1

Whatchamacallit #2

Thingamajig #1

Thingamajig #2 - Bottom and Top

Did you have any luck identifying the prints from Monday’s quiz?

Even after classifying 217 prints I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of it.  I would not have been able to do it without the excellent flowcharts and photos found in Kissel and Vigneau’s Architectural Photoreproductions: A Manual for Identification and Care.  The photos in Lois Olcott Price’s Line, Shade and Shadow were also helpful.

Here are the photos again with answers.

Negative Vandyke Print

Blueprint - Also known as cyanotype

Blue Diazotype

Tracing Paper

Sepia Diazo Print

The next step for me is to learn how each of these prints was made so I can determine the safest way to wash off the flood residue and make repairs.   Wish me luck.

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