A book conservation question
December 28, 2019 7:00 AM   Subscribe

I have just acquired a book from the 1880s which has colour plates in it. The colour plates are starting to stick to the facing page (I think it's specifically the coloured ink which is becoming tacky). I presume that there is some sort of non-stick paper that I can put in the book to deal with this - but I'm not au fait with the language of book conservation, so I'm not sure how to start looking for this.

I'm in the UK if that makes any difference to terms or availability.
posted by Vortisaur to Science & Nature (7 answers total)
According to the Abe books glossary, this is called a tissue.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:13 AM on December 28, 2019

Not a conservator, but I would probably use Mylar film or try Glassine maybe. I know you are in the UK, but you can check out the products at Talas, to see the terminology and specs. for what I'm talking about and then look for UK versions.
posted by gudrun at 7:21 AM on December 28, 2019

Acid-free archival quality tissue can often be bought at art stores, you might also ask at a framing shop or camera shop - the kind that still works with film. It can be ordered online fairly readily. You might ask whoever you acquired this book from if they have any recommendations for best practices - and they might have some spare materials for it, too.
posted by Mizu at 7:26 AM on December 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Is it a valuable book? The fact that it is old does not necessarily make it valuable. If it is valuable, you might want to consult with a professional who restores books on the best approach. That would cost money. I can refer you to someone in the US but there are surely people in the UK and possibly more of them who could give you advice.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:52 AM on December 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Make sure you use a tissue that is specifically designed for this, not just acid free tissue paper designed for wrapping things - you want the kind of tissue that won't stick to the ink. Glassine paper is what we used to call this; they used to sell it for putting your stamps in because if they were exposed to humidity higher than they liked the gum Arabic wouldn't stick to the paper. By now you would definitely need to look for archive supplies if you want to do a good job. I'd be enormously surprised if you could get it at the post office.

However if it's not a valuable book and you just want to keep it a decade or so, a big sheet of stickers would give you the right kind of paper - just peel all the stickers off and put the backing sheet smooth side down against plates. You could also do this for a few weeks while you are sourcing a better type of tissue.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:20 AM on December 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Recommend parchment paper for baking; inexpensive, sturdy, nothing sticks.
posted by effluvia at 8:24 AM on December 28, 2019

posted by Jason and Laszlo at 3:49 AM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

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