2015 has been an exciting year with the lead up to our upcoming exhibition, Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644–1911. Preservation staff have been working hard to prepare a number of items for display including books, pith albums, and maps. Some of these items required stabilising repairs so they could be safely mounted, handled, and exhibited.
Many of the items on display in our Exhibition Gallery for the William Strutt exhibition, Heroes and Villains: Strutt's Australia, previously had dark orange and brown staining on their corners from deteriorated sticky tape or adhesive where it may have been previously mounted. These dark adhesive residues had begun to stain the objects all the way through to the front of the work. As this was accelerating the rate of degradation of these works, we have attempted to remove as much of the adhesive and stain as possible without causing harm to the work.
The Library’s Manuscript Collection is a veritable treasure trove for intrepid researchers to uncover new and exciting fragments of our cultural history. These treasures include rare examples of Australian currency, such as this unimposing scrap of paper dated 1812, which promises its bearer payment of ‘two shillings and sixpence’.
In preparation for display in the Library’s current exhibition Revealing the Rothschild Prayer Book c. 1505–1510 from the Kerry Stokes Collection, Preservation Services was very excited to receive into its care a fourteenth-century English Psalter MS 1172. The Latin text is dated to 1330–1350 AD and features annotations and drawings by a sixteenth-century Welsh school boy. The manuscript remains in what appears to be its original monastic binding.
I was introduced to the world of digital preservation when I was a youngster. Sitting in my high school IT class, there was a video we were asked to watch which told the history of computing. It had all sorts of wonderful information about the early days—the 1940s—when small furry creatures got into the computer hard drives and were coined computer bugs.
It’s not often that Australian conservators get the chance to work with fragments from the Medieval era. However, this year the whole conservation team at the National Library had the privilege of working with 108 fragments of medieval manuscripts collected by Rex Nan Kivell. The fragments, all in much need of some conservation attention and time, was the focus of this year’s Tax Time Appeal project. The parchment fragments arrived in the Preservation Services laboratory in varying states of disrepair due to their use and re-use as paste- in’s for books produced in later eras.
Since our last blog post, digitisation of the Library’s medieval manuscripts has been advancing apace, with more than 65 per cent of the collection now captured and stored in our digital object storage system.
Among the National Library’s treasures are some 228 rare and significant medieval manuscripts. These little known items were acquired as part of our earliest and foundation collections, including the Clifford, Nan Kivell and Petherick Collections.
Take up the Sword of Justice is a commanding recruitment poster, and after its treatment in Preservation Services, makes a great addition to the Library's current exhibition Keepsakes: Australians and the Great War. This large colour lithograph by Bernard Partridge (1861-1945) was printed in England in 1915 by David Allen & Sons for the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee. It features a classical representation of the figure of Justice.