Conservator removes adhesive from botanical text

Treatment FOCUS: Various Botanical Texts

At Pennsylvania Hospital’s upcoming “Flower to Pharmacy” exhibition, visitors will learn about medicine from the 18th and 19th centuries, browse an inventory of the Pennsylvania Hospital Apothecary, and view original recipes written by medical students. On display will be unique botanical volumes from the Hospital’s Historic Library, including the first American textbook on botany, Benjamin Smith Barton’s Elements of Botany, or Outlines of the Natural History of Vegetables, which was first published in 1803 and features William Bartram’s illustrations.

Conservator trims mends to volume

Book Conservator Rebecca Smyrl trims mends in John Gerarde’s The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes (1633)

Nine texts that will be included in the exhibition recently arrived at CCAHA for treatment and digital imaging. Most of the volumes received treatment with the goal of stabilization. Book Conservators Theresa Cho and Rebecca Smyrl and Conservation Technician Valeria Kremser surface cleaned the text leaves, mended tears and board edges, and consolidated abraded leather on the covers. Two books, the notebook of Benjamin Morris (1750) and the memo book of Benjamin Horner Coates (1793), received full treatment. These books were disbound, their leaves washed in aqueous calcium phytate and bicarbonate solutions and then flattened. Manager of Digital Documentation Michelle Dauberman digitally captured pages from the notebook and memo book and printed facsimiles that exhibition visitors will be able to handle in order to read the writers’ recipes for various ailments. The resewn and rebound original volumes, in addition to John Gerarde’s The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes (1633), will be placed on display.

Facsimiles of botanical books

Facsimiles mounted to mat board await trimming

From those books that will not be displayed at the exhibition, Michelle digitally captured select images and accompanying text and printed full-size, full-color facsimiles for display. Director of Book Conservation Jim Hinz mounted each facsimile to mat board using dry mount tissue and attached each board to a Tycore panel that has a cloth hanger and metal eyelet adhered at the top for easy installation.