Friday, 26 November 2010

Book Review: Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage

The objective of this book is to guide you through some basic preservation techniques and preventative conservation practices for artifacts commonly found in family collections.

The first half discusses different types of artifacts, each in a separate chapter. They are: paper, parchment and vellum; books; paintings and other framed works of art; still and moving pictures; textiles; wooden objects; bone, horn, and ivory; plastic and rubber; glass and ceramic; silver, coins, and medals; and digital media.

Each chapter contains sections on preservation concerns and prevention conservation. There are also suggestions on when to call a conservator, often only when restoration is needed.

I have some World War One medals from both my grandfathers which have sat neglected in a cardboard box in a drawer for many years. I was interested to see if this book would give me any useful guidance on how I should be treating them in the future. Apparently most military medals were issued with a bright surface and should be maintained that way. Unfortunately the books contains no instructions for the construction of a time machine.

I should always have been wearing clean white cotton gloves when I've handle them to prevent the transfer of all oils and salt from my hands. Woe is me. Were these medals only lightly tarnished they could be cleaned with a polishing cloth, whereas more heavily tarnished medals need the attention of a conservator.

As for preservation, the book informs that medals were often awarded or presented in boxes or small cases where they should be kept. Again, it's too late for that.

The second half of the book is written as 15 appendices dealing with specific activities such as what information to put in an accession list, surface cleaning of books, and treating infestations in textiles by freezing.

At the back of the book are a glossary, references and further reading, and a list of suppliers. I was a bit surprised that of the 15 items in the reference section only two were websites.

The presentation of the material is straightforward. Don't look to it for anecdotes on how a particular conservation challenge was handled. It would be a useful reference for anyone with a family artifact collection, not only genealogists. Folks with larger and varied collections will find it especially useful. Others with more modest collections may find that even at only 174 pages it may be hard to justify its space on the bookshelf.

Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage, by Kennis Kim, a 174 page paperback, published for the Ontario Genealogical Society by Dundurn Press (Mar 15 2010), ISBN 978-155488462, is widely available online (Google it for a convenient source).

    1 comment:

    Michelle Goodrum said...

    Thank you for the information. I'll be checking this book out.