Still looking good at 100 years…

One of the things I noticed, while at the Cincinnati Art Museum, is that for vast majority of those posters lined with Chartex, the support was still in really good condition. Granted, many of the posters were grimy or slightly darkened/yellowed by time – shop that morning. There was a small group of posters in the Cincinnati collection that had been bound as part of a sample book (by the Strobridge Litho Co.) – they were all lined with a wheat-starch paste and cotton/linen lining. The support on those posters were yellowed, much darker and more brittle than the Chartex-lined posters. And they weren’t necessarily any older than the Chartex posters – in fact, I do recall seeing examples of the same poster in both the sample book group and also lined with Chartex.

From Neil Cockerline’s article:

Even though circus posters were produced by the thousands very cheaply, the materials utilized in their production were of higher quality than one might expect. Posters were printed on fairly high quality medium weight wove paper, usually bleached to a bright white color. While some wood pulp generally can be identified in standard poster paper, these paper substrates age quite well with proper storage and handling. Because of the volume of posters produced, and the fact that they were not meant to last beyond the few weeks they were used, it is interesting to note that a fairly high quality paper was the industry standard.

I mentioned already my suspicions about the Chartex adhesive acting as some sort of acid-degradation barrier, mainly from comparing the condition of sample-book posters with the Chartex-lined posters. Maybe, however, it’s not so much the Chartex preventing the poster from degrading as it is the paste-and-cotton linings that are causing the sample-book posters to become embrittled.

This gives me a few things to do:

  • fiber analysis and pH tests on the Chartex
  • find some information about wax adhesives used on paper, and if they can indeed act as barriers to acid-degradation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: