Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Wizarding World of Conservation

Day 26:

Today we headed back to the British Library (remember, the home of King George's really cool library tower?! If you don't remember this, go back and read my blog "Independence Day at the British Library".), but this time we had an appointment to see the British Library Conservation Centre.  This department is in charge of conserving the materials used in the British Library.  Since the library is a reference library and the items can be checked out and handled by patrons, it's important for them to be functional.

The team of six has plenty to work on since the Legacy Collection has 150 million items, which are the items on which they focus their efforts.  Newer items needing conservation go to their department based in Yorkshire.  In order to determine which items will be worked on, individual curators for each department in the library prioritize the work they need and send in bids to the conservation team.  Then the conservation team leader gets all of the bids, looks at the items, and estimates the number of hours of work each item needs. Then the curator and the conservator determine which course of action would be best based on hours available, need, frequency of handling, uniqueness, priority, and whether the item is going to be digitized.

Our guide showed us examples of his conservation work. (We weren't allowed to take pictures, so I don't have photographs of these examples.)

The first was a Dutch leather tooling example from the 1800s.  The example was like a resume' for this Dutch craftsman.

We also saw an India Office Record Box from 1832.  This book was particularly interesting because it has a spring back, which pops open.  While he was showing us this particular book, our guide explained that the marbling on the edges of pages of account books served the dual purposes of decoration and security.  Marbling stops crooked accountants from removing and replacing pages, because the marbling can't be reproduced after the fact.  

We saw a 1649 dictionary that had been rebacked (which is when the cover has been replaced or repaired) using a combination of original and new leather.  The conservator had also resewn the binding, added new boards, but left the inner manuscript notes.  The conservators do not use rice paper, only Japanese tissue to reinforce where they sew.  They use different weights of tissue paper, each costing approximately 6-7 pound per sheet.

Then we went to the Finishing Department, where two more guides told us about the process for gold finishing on leather or cloth bindings.  We got to see the tools involved, hear about the steps necessary, and even touch some gold leaf, ourselves.  Gold finishing is a very precise process, and there are very few people on staff who have reached expert-level.

I have the "golden touch"

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Tonight, we headed to the Warner Brothers Studio Harry Potter Tour, which was A-Mazing!  Here are pictures from the tour:

Chess Pieces

Flying Ford Anglia

Harry's Cupboard Under the Stairs

Dining Hall Table (Looks just like Christ Church College)

Hagrid, Filch, and the House Points

The Proclamations from Umbridge's Era

Gryffindor Boys' Common Room

Mirror of Erised

Invisibility Cloak

Entrance to Dumbledore's Office


Potions Classroom, Complete with a Self-stirring Pot and Snape


Dumbledore's Office

Sword of Gryffindor

Hagrid's Hut and Fang

Magicked Knitting Needles at the Burrow

Ministry of Magic Statue

Ministry of Magic

Ministry of Magic--Floo Network

Daily Prophet

Black Family Tapestry

Knight Bus

Sirius/Hagrid's Motorcycle with Sidecar

Ford Anglia

Dursley Residence

Tom Riddle's Grave
Buckbeak the Hippogriff
The Potters' House
Covered Bridge at Hogwarts

Diagon Alley
Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes Puking Pastilles Display

Hogwarts Model (1:24 scale)

Hogwarts Model

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