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Conserving an old album...?

#1 · Posted: 8 Nov 2017 23:36 · Edited by: Moderator
Just received a very old Tintin book in black and white. I notice that the pages have a "yellowish" taint that extends about 4 centimetres from the edges of the pages. Like a yellow "frame" of a sort on all the page.

I understand it has something to do with exposure to light and/or acidity of the paper, but not sure what to do about it. Other than keeping it in a dark place, is there anything I can do to stop this from extending or worsening? Are there special protective sheets that I can buy and insert between the pages? Any advice is much welcomed. Thanks.
#2 · Posted: 9 Nov 2017 08:12
It's the deterioration of lignin in the wood-pulp from which the paper has been made which discolours the pages.

There are methods of neutralizing the process somewhat, but the work would need to be done professionally by a conservator, which would probably be expensive, and whether this would remove such yellowing as has already happened I don't know - I think that that would require additional bleaching, which might damage the inks and binding.

If the book is particularly valuable, and you have the budget, I would go and have a chat with an antiquarian bookshop, and ask them if they can recommend a specialist, and get a quotation for remedial work.

I'm not sure that putting sheets of anything between the pages would be beneficial - it's not a condition that spreads by contact, and you would be effectively increasing the number of pages by 50%, which again would be potentially detrimental to the binding, and might be worse for the condition of the book than the yellowing.

By far and away the best path is simply as you suggest to keep the book away from direct sunlight, in an acid-free archival bag (such as are sold by comics shops) to reduce contact with the air, and accept that signs of aging like this are a natural and almost inevitable facet of having an old book.
#3 · Posted: 9 Nov 2017 19:30
Thank you very much. Excellent advice.
#4 · Posted: 27 Nov 2017 18:05
I'll second that - Detailed, meticulous & spot-on!

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