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Old newspapers: Humidity chambers, steam from ink

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    • #131694


      At the institution where I am working by now the old press (1880-1940) in very bad shape is prepared for digitization by flattening by hot ironing and repaired with filmoplast R.

      Regardless the convenience or not of this kind of treatment for the mid-long term conservation, I have two questions:

      1- Does anybody have experience in humidity chambers with old newspapers? I use to rise the relative humidity up to +/- 85% for one day or two prior to unfold or flat a paper document or photograph but I don’t did it before with old newspapers; however, I think that it can be convenient in this kind of situation but I will like to hear the impressions of the ones that might did it in the past.

      2- Does anybody know some paper of study regarding the potentially health issue in breathing smoke/steam with/from newspaper ink? In this lab the people who does the flattening with the hot iron breaths a subtile but permanent smoke from the hot paper. I know that the ink is called in some places “smoke black” since it was made with the soot of factories chimneys, so I think it will be interesting to know something about it.

    • #131696
      Rebecca Elder


      You should be able to humidify and flatten newspapers, however because newsprint is so thin, the process should go very quickly– I’d check hourly to see how soon I could get the piece out of the chamber, as the less time an object spends being humidified, the less chance there is of something going wrong.

      I don’t know anything about potential toxicity of the newspaper ink, but if you have any concerns, I’d advise your staff to have respirators fitted, and to wear them whenever they’re working in this environment. I’ll try to find out an answer for you on that.


    • #131695

      Hi, since we work with huges quantities I think that the minimum period that we can manage to keep the documents inside the chamber will be of 24hours, but I admit that I don’t see, from my experience, what can go wrong with these kind of time lapse, since I never see ink going sticky of paper becoming too fragile, for example.

      Respirators can be a almost impossible mission when we try to impose them to people who’s been doing this from more than 20 years, however a good reliable information about it can make them possible in an optional way, as much it can be useful too in pushing authorities to buy a couple of aspiration chambers/bells -sorry but the adequate english term doesn’t comes to my mind now- to adequate the space.

      Thanks a lot for your answer -as you see, its hard to get a feedback in this subject- and for any kind of info that you may get.

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