These botanical illustrations from the Cullen collection are some of the items which have been treated as part of our Wellcome Trust funded conservation project. MS Cullen 141 was enclosed in a letter to William Cullen (1710-1790) from James Kerr, then living in Calcutta. He appears to have been a former student of Cullen and writes that he is sending a box of coira wood, holding some specimens for Cullen’s ‘museum & garden’.
Before treatment, the condition of both these items meant they could not be handled safely by researchers without the risk of further damage. They were tightly folded up, grimy, and some of the paper was torn. Firstly, both items were carefully cleaned by hand using vulcanised sponge and conservation grade erasers around non-image areas. Tests indicated that the materials used in the illustrations would not be harmed by introducing some moisture, so aqueous cleaning and deacidification were carried out. This helped to flatten the paper and resulted in a slight stain reduction on the right hand side of MS Cullen 142. During this procedure, the items were closely observed for any changes that, although having tested negative, might occur if left in water over a prolonged time.Repairs to the running tears were completed by filling in with a selection of Japanese papers matched to the original 18th century paper. Finally, both items were rehoused in a larger, custom made folder which means they do not have to be re-folded. They can now be viewed on request in our reading room.
(Thanks to Louise Robertson, Project Conservator for treatment information.)
Categories: Special Collections