Substandard Housing: The Scrapbooks Themselves

It is quite clear upon examination that the bindings and the mounting paper of the King scrapbooks are not only themselves decaying, but they are also causing damage to the prints they are supposed to protect and organize. This situation presents a quandary to the Library: Does the Library remove all or some of the prints from the albums, thus breaking up the order they have rested in over the last 135 years; or, does the Library preserve the prints in their original covers, repair where possible, and let the deterioration continue? 


The current opinion is to preserve the order and appearance of the scrapbooks by replacing all of the prints with photographic reproductions in the exact order in which they are found. The bindings would be repaired minimally. Eventually, as time and resources permitted, the albums would be photographed or microfilmed. 


The original prints will be rehoused in folders and stored in archival boxes especially made for print storage. In this way the order of the prints, their original housing, and the prints themselves would be preserved. 


The original bindings of individual scrapbooks show extensive disrepair, and individual pages have come loose. Whole signatures are completely torn free. 


The cause of the scrapbooks' deterioration lies not in their care and handling but in what conservators call the "inherent vice" of the materials used to mount and bind the scrapbooks. Wood pulp paper and boards and highly inflexible hide glues deteriorate at rapid speed, staining and wrinkling the prints. 


In the collection of loose prints, damage to the prints is done each time the album is moved or shown. Loose prints have disappeared, or, as in the case when they are only partially loose, the prints become folded, creased, or torn. 


As each print is expertly conserved, a photocopy will replace it in its exact location in the scrapbook. 


Original prints will be properly stored.