Today we headed back to the British Library (remember, the home of King George's really cool library tower?! If you don't remember this, go back and read my blog "Independence Day at the British Library".), but this time we had an appointment to see the British Library Conservation Centre. This department is in charge of conserving the materials used in the British Library. Since the library is a reference library and the items can be checked out and handled by patrons, it's important for them to be functional.
The team of six has plenty to work on since the Legacy Collection has 150 million items, which are the items on which they focus their efforts. Newer items needing conservation go to their department based in Yorkshire. In order to determine which items will be worked on, individual curators for each department in the library prioritize the work they need and send in bids to the conservation team. Then the conservation team leader gets all of the bids, looks at the items, and estimates the number of hours of work each item needs. Then the curator and the conservator determine which course of action would be best based on hours available, need, frequency of handling, uniqueness, priority, and whether the item is going to be digitized.
Our guide showed us examples of his conservation work. (We weren't allowed to take pictures, so I don't have photographs of these examples.)
The first was a Dutch leather tooling example from the 1800s. The example was like a resume' for this Dutch craftsman.
We also saw an India Office Record Box from 1832. This book was particularly interesting because it has a spring back, which pops open. While he was showing us this particular book, our guide explained that the marbling on the edges of pages of account books served the dual purposes of decoration and security. Marbling stops crooked accountants from removing and replacing pages, because the marbling can't be reproduced after the fact.
We saw a 1649 dictionary that had been rebacked (which is when the cover has been replaced or repaired) using a combination of original and new leather. The conservator had also resewn the binding, added new boards, but left the inner manuscript notes. The conservators do not use rice paper, only Japanese tissue to reinforce where they sew. They use different weights of tissue paper, each costing approximately 6-7 pound per sheet.
Then we went to the Finishing Department, where two more guides told us about the process for gold finishing on leather or cloth bindings. We got to see the tools involved, hear about the steps necessary, and even touch some gold leaf, ourselves. Gold finishing is a very precise process, and there are very few people on staff who have reached expert-level.
|I have the "golden touch"|
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Tonight, we headed to the Warner Brothers Studio Harry Potter Tour, which was A-Mazing! Here are pictures from the tour:
|Flying Ford Anglia|
|Harry's Cupboard Under the Stairs|
|Dining Hall Table (Looks just like Christ Church College)|
|Hagrid, Filch, and the House Points|
|The Proclamations from Umbridge's Era|
|Gryffindor Boys' Common Room|
|Mirror of Erised|
|Entrance to Dumbledore's Office|
|Potions Classroom, Complete with a Self-stirring Pot and Snape|
|Sword of Gryffindor|
|Hagrid's Hut and Fang|
|Magicked Knitting Needles at the Burrow|
|Ministry of Magic Statue|
|Ministry of Magic|
|Ministry of Magic--Floo Network|
|Black Family Tapestry|
|Sirius/Hagrid's Motorcycle with Sidecar|
|Tom Riddle's Grave|
|Buckbeak the Hippogriff|
|The Potters' House|
|Covered Bridge at Hogwarts|
|Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes Puking Pastilles Display|
|Hogwarts Model (1:24 scale)|