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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published online by De Gruyter May 19, 2022

Investigating the Properties of Folded Parchment – A Preliminary Study

Untersuchung der Eigenschaften von gefaltetem Pergament – eine Vorstudie
Paul Garside and Camille Dekeyser

Abstract

Parchment manuscripts form an important part of many historic collections. They are often found folded, with some displaying multiple fold patterns resulting from changing uses over their history. Parchment is a potentially fragile medium and folding can increase its susceptibility to damage, as well as hampering access and display. Treatment to address these issues may involve the relaxation of the folded structure, using humidification or a solvent such as propanol, and gentle pressing or stretching. However, this presents a dilemma – an inappropriately folded manuscript may be more prone to damage, but treatments require invasive interventions. This preliminary study has employed infrared spectroscopy and shrinkage temperature measurements to better understand the properties of folded parchment. It demonstrates that physicochemical changes can be detected at the fold and, to a lesser extent, in adjacent areas, compared to the bulk material, and that monitoring these changes allows the impact of different treatment methods to be assessed. This provides a basis for further research into the effect of both the original folding and of potential treatment methods, to inform conservation decisions and help ensure appropriate, effective, and sympathetic outcomes.

Zusammenfassung

Pergamenthandschriften bilden einen wichtigen Teil vieler historischer Sammlungen. Sie werden oft gefaltet aufbewahrt, wobei sie auch mehrere Faltungen aufweisen können, die sich durch die unterschiedlichen Verwendungen im Laufe ihrer Geschichte ergaben. Pergament ist ein potenziell fragiles Medium, und die Faltung kann die Anfälligkeit für Schäden erhöhen sowie den Zugang und die Präsentation erschweren. Um diese Einschränkungen zu überwinden, kann man das Pergament befeuchten oder ein Lösungsmittel wie Propanol einbringen und es danach leicht beschweren oder spannen. Dies stellt jedoch ein Dilemma dar, denn wenngleich ein unsachgemäß gefaltetes Pergament anfälliger für Schäden ist, erfordert die Behandlung jedoch invasive Eingriffe. In dieser Vorstudie wurden die Eigenschaften von gefaltetem Pergament mittels Infrarotspektroskopie und Schrumpfungstemperaturmessungen untersucht. Erste Ergebnisse zeigen, dass physikalisch-chemische Veränderungen im Bereich der Faltungen und, in geringerem Ausmaß, auch in angrenzenden Bereichen stattgefunden haben. Eine genaue Charakterisierung dieser Veränderungen ermöglicht es, die Auswirkungen verschiedener Behandlungsmethoden besser abzuschätzen. Dies bietet die Grundlage für die weitere Erforschung der Auswirkungen sowohl der ursprünglichen Faltung als auch möglicher Behandlungsmethoden, und bietet eine Grundlage für konservatorische Entscheidungen.


Corresponding author: Paul Garside, Kelvin Centre for Conservation and Cultural Heritage Research, Kelvin Hall, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK, E-mail:

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Published Online: 2022-05-19

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