The HF Group


Conserving John James Audubon's Birds of America
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 "modern" adhesives.


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 plates.



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