Conserving the Dingwall collection

In 2012-13 the Library received funding from the Wellcome Trust to catalogue and conserve the papers of Eric Dingwall, which include albums and scrapbooks. Rachael Smither was employed on a six-month contract to undertake urgent conservation work and writes as follows:

A survey of the collection found that:

  • There were 77 scrapbooks containing press cuttings, reports, photographs, leaflets, letters and other ephemeral material.
  • Most are 20th-century printed books with their pages trimmed back to leave stubs and guards, allowing room for research material to be adhered in.
  • The date of the content ranges from the late 19th century through to the 1980s.
  • All of the scrapbooks needed some sort of repackaging and almost a third were in need of structural repair.
  • Over half contain photographic material and nearly all contain newsprint.
An example of one of the scrapbooks which contains both photographs and newsprint.

An example of one of the scrapbooks which contains both photographs and newsprint.

The aim of the conservation treatment was to get as many as possible of the damaged scrapbooks into a functioning condition, which would allow them to be safely handled by the readers. Below is an example of scrapbook where extensive treatment was required.

MS912/1/35

Condition

  • The original binding is an early edition of G.E.O. Newnes’ Citizen’s Atlas of the World.
  • Approximately a third of all the text block pages have been trimmed back to allow Dingwall to insert his research material.
  • However too much material has been added, which has caused the text block to swell and eventually the joints have broken. The boards subsequently became detached and are missing.
  • Due to the missing boards it is not known what the original binding style was, but later editions from the same period appear to be mainly half bound with leather and cloth.

Treatment

  • Extra section stubs were sewn onto the text block to increase the width of the spine.
  • Endbands were also sewn on to help improve the strength of the overall structure. Although not an original feature of the binding, it was felt that they would help support the structure and shape of the spine.
  • New boards were made and attached. Tanned goat skin was used to cover the spine and corners, with toned Aerolinen adhered to the outsides of the boards.
  • The old, original spine leather was pasted back in place. 
Before treatment.

Before treatment.

After treatment.

After treatment.

Spine before treatment.

Spine before treatment.

Spine after treatment.

Spine after treatment.

Head before treatment.

Head before treatment.

Head after treatment.

Head after treatment.

Re-housing of the scrapbooks:

All 77 scrapbooks were re-housed in custom made clamshell boxes. 

Scrapbook in clamshell box.

Scrapbook in clamshell box.

  

 
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