Etherington Conservation Center recently completed work on North
Carolina Museum of Art's original double elephant folio edition of John
James Audubon's The Birds of North America.
Previously in the possession of a library, this large volume,
measuring approximately 26-1/4 " x 39", had seen much public use and showed
a great deal of wear. Fifteen to twenty of the plates were severely damaged
and had been "repaired" over the years with cellophane tape and other
The first task was to disbind the volume so the plates could be
conserved individually. This was followed by chemical reduction of irregular
foxing spots and the removal of previous repairs with steam.
The more severely damaged plates were lined with Japanese paper and
wheat starch adhesive. Losses in the original design were inpainted with
watercolors and the plates were pressed.
A Japanese paper hinge was tipped onto each plate to provide
flexibility without causing stress to the plate itself. The plates were sewn
onto new linen tapes and the textblock was rounded and backed.
A new case binding was constructed following the manner of the
original binding with calfskin spine and corners. Marbled paper filled in
the sides and was used for the inside endpapers.
The calfskin spine was blind and gold tooled.
The finished case opens flat with little stress to the individual