Materials that pass though Preservation

Materials that pass though Preservation
5 September 2011

How many tomato sauce recipes can you have? I discover the Sydney County Council's Tomato recipes typed on a single sheet of loose paper, tucked away in the CWA's Coronation Cookery Book.  Did you know  they (the Council?) had 4 recipes for tomato sauce? Amazing! So many recipes. Discoveries like these are what I really enjoy about working in Preservation.

CWA Coronation Cookery Book

CWA Coronation Cookery Book

Neale has been working on the "Tichbourne Affair" Album; someone's scrap book about Sir Roger Tichbourne, crammed with newspaper clippings, photos and cartoons. He was pondering what to do with the Tichbourne Ballad, a song written over sixteen plates, printed on very thin paper, folded concertina style, and of course crumbling to bits. OK, I exaggerate; but there are many tears, and if we leave it, the next person to open it will tear it some more.

Poor state of the Tichbourne Ballad

Poor state of the Tichbourne Ballad

So we have a duty to make it better. But what to do? Neale's workbench is opposite mine and I can see frown lines developping as he ponders this question. So I sidle up to him and we talk about his ideas for this little book. There are many things he needs to consider, however foremost is the life of the object.  It's great that I can get close to projects like this, ask questions and then see him in action. Does he line it? If he does it will be thicker; will there be enough space in the scrap book? Does he change the integrity of the concertina book by binding it? This means he wouldn't necessarily need to line it, but it would be a different item. How does that affect its value? Does that matter? Is the information inside it more important? He passes the Ballad over to the paper lab.  He will continue work on the scrap book while Kate will line the Ballad.

Kate working on the Ballad

Kate working on the Ballad

What we have here is Cooperation:  we utilise each other's abilities, garner the knowledge and create a pool from which we can draw immense resources. Neale has fixed the scrap book, and now that the Ballad is lined, he has reworked the binding so that it has become one long, continuous story concertina; we can now understand more fully the story of the Tichbourne Affair.  Although the booklet is a different size, it will be more stable and still fit within the confines of the scrap book. Preservation staff are, in the main, foodies. I think this summer we will use our individual home produce to experiment with those four tomato sauce recipes.  The variety present in our national collection is what makes it really exciting and fun to work up here on the fourth floor.