Conservation care of the legacies of important figures of the Polish intellectual life in the 20th century is complicated due to a large diversity of the donated material. The collection is often composed of documents in a traditional form: letters, postcards, official documents, typescripts, manuscripts, studies – all either hand-written or type-written on paper support of various quality, and, often, on accidental paper of bad quality. The mass deacidification technologies possessed by the National Library of Poland – by halting the paper degradation process – solve an important problem of the 19th and 20th century holdings’ preservation. It is possible now to combine the methods of traditional and mass conservation. Inclusion of deacidification in the conservation programme must be combined with the knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of the possessed technologies.
The article focuses on methods used in the evaluation of the condition of photographic collections. Many issues related to the process of examination of mixed and single collections were emphasized. Scholars involved in examining the photographic collections all around the world differ quite often in the ability to identify and classify damage types and employ different scales of damage evaluation. The specific character of each collection, different aims of surveys and a variety of photographic techniques may be indicated as the main causes of this situation. No universal formula has been developed until today, and many different methods are still presented at conferences and in publications, in which a strong request for the development of a universal procedure of evaluation is expressed. There should be no doubt as to the fact that it is hard work. The author concluded that this goal might only be achieved by means of regular cooperation among many institutions.
The article is an attempt to analyze the phenomenon of historical photographic retouching. The author recalls definitions and functions of retouching, under which she classifies individual techniques in terms of, among others, the materials used by the retoucher, the type of a technique selected to carry out the work or a photographic technique that undergoes retouching treatment (daguerreotype, albumen print, ambrotype, silver-gelatin materials). It also describes the workshop of a retoucher and preparatory procedures that took place before taking a picture. The author draws attention to the fact that retouch exists since the beginning of photography and is an integral part of it. Good recognition of a retouching technique is a key step in the context of any planned conservation programme of old photographs.
Because of photographic deterioration (caused mainly by fading, abrasion, cracking, losses etc.) different techniques of reconstruction have been used since the 19th century. The author focused on and indicated the possibilities and limitations of the following techniques: chemical restoration, photographic manipulations, autoradiography, infrared and digital methods. An important alternative for the oldest chemical treatment is currently digital restoration, whose safety is widely known among restorers since renovation works are carried out on digital copies. The examples of solutions of digital reconstructions were presented. Some of the creation procedures of the digital image should be of special attention because of a harmful influence of some factors (such as light, non-flat objects, etc.) on old and degraded photographic materials.
With regards to their function, family photographic albums represent a homogenous group of objects intended first of all for pictures of a family nature. Since the mid 19th century until the 1930s, along with the change of the format and photographic techniques, also the albums intended for the storage of photos had changed – both in terms of their technical construction and the used materials, and in terms of decorations that followed the fashions ruling at the time. The author analyses these changes thoroughly until the advent of amateur photography when the described type of an album disappeared entirely.
A big obstacle in the deacidifcation of watercolours, pastels and other heritage items on paper, executed in water-sensitive techniques has been the lack of safe methods wherein both the deacidifying substance and the solvent would be inactive when in contact with the painting layer. The chance to eliminate the threat is offered by the Bookkeeper technology, i. e. one of the mass deacidifcation methods developed in USA in the 1980s. The article presents the conducted research project to examine the impact of deacidifcation using this method on the permanence of colour of the painting layers. Model samples underwent accelerated and natural aging tests. Additionally, tests have been conducted with the use of original objects – watercolours, gouaches, pastels and manuscripts.
Tapa – a universal, fibrous material manufactured from the inner side of the bast fibre of the bark of paper mulberry trees – has been known for nearly six thousand years. The technique of its manufacturing was probably invented on the territory of today’s China from where, across Southeast Asia, it spread to other countries, mainly in the equatorial regions. The oldest preserved fragments of tapa in the world come from Peru from before ca. 2100–2400 B C. The word “amate” comes from the language of the Aztecs, Nahualt, and is the name of a wild fig tree amate or amacuahuitl, from which the bast fibre was obtained. Apart from the function of paper, amate played a very significant role in many religious and magical rituals. It was a symbolic decorative element of the statues of deities and priests’ ceremonial robes. In the mid 20th century the craft of manufacturing the amate paper was reborn and it began to be used as an artistic and decorative product.
In 2013–2014 a collection of 143 papyruses held by the Division of Papyrology of the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Archeology underwent conservation treatment. The papyruses were found during the 19th century archeological expeditions. Probably at the turn of the 20th century they were bound and have been kept in this form until today. They were placed without cleaning and straightening between two glass plates, and the whole object was closed on the edges with a paper or linen tape. The goal of the conservation and restoration treatment is first of all to stop and eliminate the destructive factors. It was also very important to improve the aesthetics of the objects and to enable its reading and exhibiting.
The article describes in detail the process of conservation and restoration of an 18th century Chinese woodcut Nianhua from the collection of the Palace of King John III Museum in Wilanów. First, the execution technology and the state of the object’s preservation were analysed, as well as a number of conservation issues of technical, ethical, as well as aesthetic nature. The conservation treatment and the tests were performed in compliance with the rule of respect for the authentic materials and the rule of minimum intervention in the original structure of the object. The tests and the conservation treatment were conducted as part of an M.A. thesis written in the Chair of Conservation and Restoration of Rare Books and Fine Prints at the Faculty of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art (Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw).
The collection of drawings and fine prints of the Potocki family from Wilanów, built since the 18th century, called the Wilanów collection, stands out against the background of other pictorial collections of the National Library not only in terms of its very valuable contents, but also in terms of its specific arrangement. The author of this arrangement was the son of Stanisław Kostka, Aleksander, who from 1832 until his death in 1845 conducted large-scale collection arranging and conservation works. The drawings in the albums are mounted on plates – a part of coloured, decorative paper is pasted onto the recto side and hand-made paper onto the verso side. Along the edges of the plates runs an impressed ornament, whereas the corners are enhanced with impressed, decorative motifs. The drawings are bordered with decorative paper tapes. The present study analysed the materials used to make the albums and the methods of their decoration since they need to be treated as an integral part of the object. The second part of the article presents an example of a conservation treatment of a drawing by Jan Piotr Norblin belonging to this collection.
Conservation treatment of large-format objects on paper support is a very complex issue that concerns works of big dimensions and significant weight. Quite often they are made up of a number of layers of paper which causes undesired stresses and deformation. Thus it is extremely important to secure this type of heritage items by proper mounting, i. e. building a special structure which will support the object and at the same time be a component part of the frame, which will be used in storage and will be indispensable in exhibiting the object. Mounting must meet a number of requirements: it must be a light and stable structure, made solely of certified, top quality materials, reacting to the changes of the environment conditions in a manner adequate to the mounted object, and at the same time reversible – thus possible to separate without any harm to the artifact. The article contains a survey of types of mounting of objects on paper support. The second part contains an analysis of the kind and scale of changes taking place as a result of the simulation of the aging process on the basis of the models of the selected solutions. The comparison of the results enabled authors to evaluate the usefulness of the examined systems for practical use in conservation and restoration work involving large-format objects on paper support.