Destruction as Preservation

Sometimes, when we find old things that have been “preserved”, it is best to leave them alone. But at other times, the best course of action is to try to reverse whatever previous preservation was attempted. Today, a pictorial adventure in reversing bad preservation:

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A framed map had been hanging in the library for quite a long time. The person who currently has it in their office didn’t like it, so I said “I’ll take it, it fits in with my ‘old-stuff’ decor.”

Even through the glass, I could tell this map is not an original old map; it’s a mid-century lithographic reproduction. However, when we took it down off the wall, on the back we see that it was a gift to the South Texas Junior College in 1969, donated by two faculty.

So I took it with me, and cut the backing carefully, so I could get at the map underneath. Then I found this:

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The framer who did the framing in 1969 used an actual cardboard box (from Spalding, I guess!) as the spacer in the frame. Because they put it in sticker-side-down, you can see how that affected the acid-transfer from the cardboard to the paper of the map:

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(the light squares are where the stickers were, and they protected those sections of the paper from the acid coming off the cardboard)

So once I got all the backing off, I also see how they affixed the map to the matte: they used Scotch tape. Yes, those brown things holding the map to the matte are what happens to Scotch tape when it has sat around for 45 years. They came off the map with no problems other than staining; the adhesive that Scotch uses isn’t very good and turns dusty in no time at all.

So now I will get some good spacing material (acid-free) and make some paper triangles to hold the map to the matte, and re-frame the whole thing. And this time it will be a little better.

(the map itself)

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