Penrhyn Archive Jamaican Estate Slave Accounts

Penrhyn Archive Jamaican Estate Slave Accounts

Penrhyn Archive Jamaican Estate Slave Accounts, Bangor University Archives
c.18th Century
Single section pamphlets of handmade paper, stab-sewn through a plain or marble-paper cover
Project for National Conservation Service
Report written by Mary Garner

DECONTAMINATION, CONSERVATION & DIGITISATION

The items treated in this project come from the Penrhyn Estate archive, deposited at the Bangor University Archives in North Wales. The project included a series of 32 paper account pamphlets from Jamaican estates. The accounts include names, roles and other details of slaves working on the estates and as such are of considerable significance historically and for their descendants researching their family histories. They are striking and disturbing documents, with slaves ‘accounted’ for as resources; for example death is referred to as a ‘decrease in slaves’ and birth as an ‘increase in slaves’.

The items have suffered from extensive water damage and damp, causing excessive mould growth, fading, weakness and discolouration. The project aim was to decontaminate and stabilise the collection and to digitise the account papers. The programme of digitisation was carried out after cleaning but prior to conservation treatments. This enabled capture of the documents in their found state and so that any repairs did not interfere with legibility of the text. Digitisation would also minimise unnecessary handling of items in the future, which while strengthened would remain vulnerable.

The main issues within this project were the presence of fugitive iron gall inks and mould damage. Iron gall ink is prone to fading and deterioration due to instability inherent in the ink composition and the varying recipes it has been historically made with. Since 2004 Mould has been classed as a Category 1 risk to health as assessed under the Health and Safety Hazards Rating System (HHSRS) – the same class as asbestos for example. The HHSRS risk assessment has been legislation in England & Wales since 2006, under the Health & Safety Act. The material in this collection had considerable mould infection and presented a definable risk to staff and users. For this reason it was vitally important to remove mould growth and endeavour to denature the spores remaining in the paper. Mould damage and bacteria cause heavy darkening and discolouration which renders documents illegible over time, in some cases causing a problem with digitisation.

The items comprised single section pamphlets of handmade paper, stab-sewn through a plain or marble-paper cover. The paper had become very fibrous and fragile and easily prone to further damage from handling. Many had large areas of loss and some pages had become stuck together. The sewing structures had disintegrated and in some cases no longer held folios into signatures.

Cleaning was carried out with soft brushes and a museum vacuum where applicable, on a Bassaire extraction unit with an ultra fine ULPA filter. Due to the weakened state of so many of the paper documents and their covers, strengthening and stabilisation was achieved by consolidation of fibres and support and repair to areas of loss and damage. Consolidation using 1% hydroxpropycellulose (‘Klucel G’) in isopropanol had the added advantage of safely denaturing the mould spores in the fibres in the treated areas. Klucel G 3% in isopropanol was also used as an adhesive for lens and Japanese tissue repairs to tears and areas of loss.

The old paper covers were in severely degraded condition and while some could be repaired, nonetheless they would continue to be weak and not provide suitable protection. On this occasion it was decided to commission new hand-made marble papers for new covers. The marble-papers were lined with an archival quality paper to make them slightly stiffer and the cleaned, digitised and repaired pamphlets were re-sewn into them. Archival sleeves were also made for each account to be housed in.

Aerial photography of Goring

Over the past week I have been working hard on my instructions for a tool roll and getting together some kits to upload to my Etsy shop, unfortunately they are not quite finished, so they will have to wait until next Monday – However – in an effort to remain entertaining to any readers, I have a slightly different post today. When I was not diligently working on my tool roll kits over the weekend, I have to admit, I was playing with The Man’s newest gadget – bought under the guise of “Maudie – I really need it for work purposes”…

So, without further ado, some photos and a short film of Goring, taken from a remote control helicopter thing – there is a technical term for it, but God only knows what it is!

DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO
I’m not sure if this will work – maybe also turn your sound off, or all you’ll get is propeller noises.

Finding Old Books and Messages

As book lover, I am often rummaging around in charity shops for old interesting books, perhaps with the hope that one day I might find a signed first edition of Harry Potter, or something equally as profitable – no luck yet! However, I do sometimes find some interesting volumes, my favourites of which contain written messages from loved ones. Yesterday was one of those good days when I stumbled across a whole shelf of old books in the Link to Hope charity shop in Worthing (a good haunt!). I managed restrain from buying the entire shelf, but did come away with a few gems – most of which will need a little love and attention in the studio to stabilise their future existence.

New old books!
New old books!

So here they are, notes and all…

I’ve always loved reading messages in books, it’s like a little piece of someones life that is passed on, sometimes to a complete stranger like me, but that makes them all the more fascinating and nice to read. So my advice – always write in your books, you never know where they will end up!

Ginger Beer from The Book of Puddings

Considering one of the books I am conserving for my major project is a recipe book, I have been dying to try some of them out! Unfortunately due to all the project work, I haven’t had time until now! So this weekend (along with a fun day out) I set about making some ginger beer from The Book of Puddings. The plan is also to have some of this at our end of year show – so it was important to try it out first!

The recipe in the book

The book has two recipes for ginger beer on the same page, one written by the author and one from a newspaper she had cut out and stuck in. Considering I was only trying out a small batch, I have gone for the newspaper recipe that makes one gallon, rather than two.

Having bought myself some bottles (Lakeland, £4.99 each – fabulous!), and some yeast and cream of tartar, I set to work (thankfully a fellow student pointed out that this was a baking powder and not the cream tartare that goes on scampi, otherwise this ginger beer could have had a very different flavour!).

All the ingredients and bottles laid out!

I’ve written out both recipes here, as the writing is not that legible so small.

2 lb sugar
2 oz cream of tartar
1/2 oz tartaric acid
2 or 3oz bruised ginger
2 pennyworth essence of lemon dropped in the suer
2 gallons of boiling water poured on the ginger alone

Add the other ingredients when mainly cold, add 2 tbs of yeast on toast and let it stand for  12 hours

Bottle and in a few days it will be ready to drink

For one gallon:
1oz of bruised ginger
1lb loaf sugar
one lemon
two tsp of cream of tartar

Pour on 1 gallon of boiling water and when nearly cold add large tbs yeast speed on toast
Strain and bottle next morning

First was to add a bruised ginger to lemon, tartar and sugar. Not being familiar with ‘bruised’ ginger, I bashed it with a hammer a few times, though I may have been a bit over zealous. Also the loaf sugar was replaced with caster sugar, as I forgot to get this at the supermarket.

“Bruised” Ginger – Maybe I did get a bit excited with the hammer…
Sugar, Lemon, Cream of Tartar and Ginger

I realised from the instructions in both recipes that the yeast had to be spread onto toast, and that the fast action yeast I had was not quite the right stuff. I tried reactivating it with a recipe from Mikes Brewery, but I’m not that sure how well it worked, it was more of a liquid than a cream. However, not to be deterred, it went onto the toast, and into the mix!

Reactivating the yeast – not too sure if this worked
In goes the toast…
… 24 hours later

24 hours and much anticipation later, I sieved and bottled it. Then for the sampling! I think it is supposed to sit bottled for a few days, so I will be sampling some more soon to see if that’s even better!

All bottled!
Sampling the brew!

Well its a bit sweet, so I do think it needs time to sit.

Some days have passed, and it is still a bit sweet, and considerably reduced in quantity, as I omitted to tell The Man that it needs time to brew, and he has been merrily drinking it away!

I might try with some better yeast for the show and proper loaf sugar to see if it makes any difference.

Boarding The Book of Puddings

The conservation of this book is going well and picking up speed now, especially as all the paper repairs are done and dusted! The boards are now on, which worked well. I attached them with Japanese tissue that covered the spine and was stuck onto the inside of the boards. Normally I would try and split the boards, but they are so thin that to split them would almost definitely damage them further.

The boards are on the book!

I have also managed to pair my leather and tone it to a good match of the boards, which I did with selaset dyes. This leather will then cover the spine and go under the leather on the boards to bring the book back into a book format – very exciting! The new leather is very thin in order to match the leather on the boards, so to give it a bit more strength, I’ve lined it with a fraynot fabric.

The new spine toned to match the boards, it is a bit wet here, so actually a better match when dry
Fraynot on the spine piece

I have also lined the spine with some western paper, and will be sanding it down a bit to reduce the swell of the sewing supports, it wasn’t dry enough on Friday to do this.

Lining the spine with western paper

Prior to rebacking a book, the edges of the boards always need to be compensated for the leather coming over from the spine. This is always a fiddly bit as the compensation pieces are invariably thin and spindly. I have done mine on this book with some of the freshly paired leather, as it is a good match.

The edge before compensation was done
The edge after compensation was done

The next step will to actually put the leather onto the spine, redo the corners a bit, and sort out the end papers and the book will be pretty much done – then for the enclosure for the newsprint! I have done a sample for this which I will post as instructions themselves, as it’s a great little enclosure!

The scraps are scraps no more

Well I definitely passed a marker today, as I have finished the paper repairs for the toys scrapbook – Mrs E. Nevill Jackson’t Scrapbook from the Museum of Childhood. They have taken a long time as many of them protruded from the edges of the book, meaning they have been crushed over the years.

Some pictures of the book and its inserts before I completed the work.

Mrs E Nevill Jackson’s Scrapbook
The head of the book with crushed inserts
The foredge of the book with crushed inserts

In order to repair these pages, many of them had to be locally humidified first, as they were folded in on themselves, and opening up the folds without the introduction of moisture, would have broken them. I separated the local humidification from the rest of the book using melinex and effectively sectioned off a page at a time. Once humidified, they each had to be dried between blotters before I could repair them. The repairs were then done using japanese tissue (usumino) for the support and a toned thicker tissue for any infills, as can be seen in my last post.

The repaired pages…

The front of the book with paper repairs complete
The head of the book with repaired inserts
The foredge of the book with repaired inserts

So obviously now the inserts are much bigger than the book, as they would have been originally. In order to prevent them being crushed again, I am going to have create some sort of chemise cover to extend the boards and protect the inserts – so watch this space!!!