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Help: Sheet Music Preservation

GUEST,Old Brown's Daughter 28 Jun 02 - 11:37 PM
GUEST 28 Jun 02 - 11:46 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 29 Jun 02 - 12:09 AM
GUEST,Old Brown's Daughter 29 Jun 02 - 12:10 AM
Dani 29 Jun 02 - 12:19 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 29 Jun 02 - 12:32 AM
Liz the Squeak 29 Jun 02 - 02:28 AM
GUEST,Old Brown's Daughter 29 Jun 02 - 12:31 PM
NicoleC 29 Jun 02 - 03:42 PM
GUEST,Peter H 29 Jun 02 - 04:31 PM
JohnInKansas 29 Jun 02 - 05:11 PM
Liz the Squeak 29 Jun 02 - 06:08 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 29 Jun 02 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Peter H 29 Jun 02 - 07:05 PM
JohnInKansas 29 Jun 02 - 07:07 PM
paddymac 30 Jun 02 - 12:03 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Jun 02 - 01:55 AM
mouldy 30 Jun 02 - 03:40 AM
GUEST 02 Jul 13 - 11:39 AM
Jack Campin 02 Jul 13 - 12:21 PM
Steve Gardham 02 Jul 13 - 02:39 PM
Will Fly 03 Jul 13 - 01:11 PM
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Subject: Sheet Music Preservation
From: GUEST,Old Brown's Daughter
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 11:37 PM

Does anyone know anything about how to preserve old sheet music?

I have inherited a box full of sheet music that was once my great-grandmother's. Got her name on it and everything. Dates on some of the pieces are 1905 and 1917, etc. So this is some really old stuff, and it hasn't been well taken care of--it's just been in a box for I don't know how many years.

I want to keep this music, so I need to do something about the shape it's in. I've got lots of ripped pages, cover pages detached, etc. Can anybody suggest something (other than a whole bunch of clear packing tape, which is all I can think of) to put this music back together & keep it that way?

So basically I'm talking antique paper preservation, I guess. Any suggestions on materials to use and how to use them would be much appreciated.

Thanks, :) Monica


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 11:46 PM

Photocopy it?


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 12:09 AM

Guest- photocopy (or scanning into a file and printing) would be my first step, too. Obtain clear plastic sleeves, archival quality, and place the originals in these.
There are so-called non-reactive tapes, but I always worry about the glue deteriorating and staining the paper (If you have a museum archive near you, you might get some good information on mending old papers). If the originals are carefully stored in sleeves, there should be no further damage. The photocopies can be reprinted, if more copies are needed for friends or for your own use.


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: GUEST,Old Brown's Daughter
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 12:10 AM

I've thought about photocopying, and that would certainly make it useable, but--

what I'd like to preserve is the original. And if I understand correctly, bright light does bad things to old stuff--I'm guessing this goes for music as well, but I really don't know, and I also don't know if the brief exposure in a copy machine would really do much damage...

Another problem with photocopying is that the sheet music isn't standard page size--most of it is bigger, more like 11x14 than 8-1/2 x 11. So copying it would mean shrinking it, which is okay in the useability sense (for the most part), but still doesn't help me preserve the original.

Thanks, :) Monica


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Dani
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 12:19 AM

These guys are mostly digitizing, but I'll bet they're into saving original material, too. Contact them, and if they can't help, they probably know someone who can.

http://www.lib.unc.edu/music/eam/abouteam.html

Dani


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 12:32 AM

Light over time is damaging, but not a brief exposure, one time, in a copy machine. Most commercial copy businesses can take the large size. I only have a standard scanner, but a neighbor has one that takes 11 x 14, which I eye covetously.
The originals could be stored in a light tight container. I haven't checked Staples recently (I get letter size archival sleeves there to store my scanned photos and I don't know if they carry the 11 x 14 size). There are establishments here that will make sleeves to size, and probably near you as well. A cheaper way, if you have made copies, is to layer the originals in a box with acid-free paper between them. Be sure to get acid-free boxes for storage; the glue and paper acids in the usual corrugated carton will react with the paper.
Luckily for you, the sheet music mostly was printed with good paper. If any sheets show signs of browning, they are not printed on acid-resistant paper, and deterioration will continue unless treated chemically. Most museums with archives have their materials treated. This treatment is expensive and should be reserves for rarer materials.


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 02:28 AM

Mending - do NOT use commercial sticky tape. It goes yellow and leaves a permanent stain. There are also some varieties that shrink and tear the paper. There are non acid glues available, talk to your local museum for advice. When I worked in a museum, if it couldn't be mended with original or inert materials, we didn't mend it, but preserved it in the state it was in and tried to prevent it getting worse. If a sheet was only printed on one side, we would gum it to a sheet of acid free paper, to strengthen it. If we couldn't do that, we would take a transcription, put the original into a clear breathable wallet and store it. Sometimes we took scans or photocopies of the the original and displayed those instead.

Storage- Try to get hold of acid free/non reacitve clear breathable wallets and place each sheet in a separate one. Store them flat and preferably in a document box made from acid free card. Breathable clear wallets are porous, thus preventing damp and sweating that some papers are prone to. Store them in a dry, preferably climate controlled room, on metal rust proofed racks (wood absorbs moisture and releases it onto whatever it touches, rust will stain anything), and try to avoid lights.

If you can't get clear porous wallets, then try acid free water colour paper - this is available in most good art shops and comes in various grades. You want something that will stand upright when you hold it along the bottom edge, but will flop if wobbled. Try it with 90gsm copy paper, and then try it with fax roll paper. Something at about 90 - 100gsm (grams per square metre) is good. You can interleave sheets of this with the originals in the box, or else, if you intend to handle them regularly, make envelopes with the acid free paper, and secure them with cotton tape.

Handling, if you do handle them, try to wear cotton gloves or wash your hands with a mild alkaline detergent (ph balance stuff, it's the acid in sweat that does the damage), and avoid taking them out on hot days. Make a catalogue of everything you have, and make sure you put a label on the outside of each box or album so you know exactly what is inside. This will reduce handling and also mean you can find what you want quickly!

On no account should you laminate anything! This preserves it alright, but effectively destroys it as an artifact, which is what you seem to be wanting these things to be? Laminate a copy if you must, but not the originals!

The main priorities are to reduce handling, store in cool, dry and acid free conditions, limit or eliminate strong light and check regularly for mildew, damp, bookworms and other paper eating bugs.

Hope this is useful. If in doubt, talk to your local museum or family records office, they will always be happy to give advice on conservation and preservation.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: GUEST,Old Brown's Daughter
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 12:31 PM

Thanks so much for the advice, LTS & Dicho, and everyone else! I'm on the case now!

I just knew mudcatters would be the ones to ask about this! :) Monica


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: NicoleC
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 03:42 PM

You might try these guys: http://www.pfile.com/index.html

Mostly photo preservation, but they do have some other items that may be a of use to you.


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: GUEST,Peter H
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 04:31 PM

Interesting thread

Liz,

Why is laminating such a no, no? You say that it effectively destroys it as an artifact

Don't fully understand what you mean, (in my ignorance) it'd seem to be an ideal solution, both preserving it and making it usable.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 05:11 PM

Pete -

Laminating a piece of old sheet music is akin to making a lamp out of an old Martin - at least to an archivist or collector.

The difficulty is that it is a permanent change, that cannot be "undone;" and it will prevent any other preservation or restoration measures ... forever.

John


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 06:08 PM

Spot on John in Kansas - would you gloss paint over the Mona Lisa, creosote Tutankhamum's sarcophagus or brick up Hadrians' wall to preserve them?

First and golden rule, never do anything that cannot be undone.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 06:40 PM

A few years ago, a framer here was offering a spray finish (one of the acrylics?) to paintings and drawings on paper for those who didn't want to mount them behind glass because of reflections.
Now, the finish is deteriorating. There is no easy repair, and collectors won't touch them.


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: GUEST,Peter H
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 07:05 PM

Thank you.

I did say that I was speaking from ignorance.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 07:07 PM

Sheet Music Reference & Price Guide from Collector Books, ISBN 0891456481 has been in book stores in my area fairly recently, (about $18 US) and is probably just one of several similar. You might find it at a local library, and might find it interesting to check out whether there are any "special treasures" in your collection. This one does include music from the era you have.

My caveat to my S.O. when she announces that she's found out one of her "collectibles" is really valuable - "The price listed is what one d...d fool with too much money paid for the one he found. That d...d fool already has one, so it's only worth that if you can find another too-rich idiot with bad taste."

Actually, most "collectible" sheet music trades for rather modest prices, and must generally be in "pristine" condition. On the off-chance that you might find something truly "rare," you might consider offering it - or at least an opportunity to copy it - to a nearby museum or library - if one has an interest. It could provide the "entry" to someone who could advise you on preservation of the rest of your collection.

John


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: paddymac
Date: 30 Jun 02 - 12:03 AM

I suspect that the primary problem is that your heirloom sheet music was not printed on acid free paper to begin with. If that is so, it will likely continue to deteriorate. I suggest you seek out a "documents preservationist" at a reputable museum and seek their advice.


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Jun 02 - 01:55 AM

They're called conservitors....al;thoug preservationist has a certain ring to it.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: mouldy
Date: 30 Jun 02 - 03:40 AM

Anyone know how to reinforce the leather spine of a manuscript book? It's early 19th century with card covers and leather spine, and the fold where the covers join onto the spine has become brittle and fractured. I know linseed oil will help the leather, but will some gum arabic help to anchor the cover before it begins to lift away? If so, where can I get some gum? I've had the book a couple of years, and I guess the transfer from fusty old bookshop to the dryer atmosphere of my home hasn't helped. I photocopied it soon after I got it and so it's rarely opened now. I daresay that's helped to stiffen the spine too.

With reference to the previous remarks about conservation: I know from my time at the London College of Printing 30 years ago that in bookbinding at least, you never do anything that cannot be reversed. Hence the use of water soluble glues, stitching, etc. I had some old (also early 19th C) books restored in the bookbinding department, and had to witness the cover of one of them being soaked in water for a week to get the original cloth binding off the boards. Then by applying that (with gum arabic) to matching repair cloth, a complete new cover was built, which at first glance looks original. I had to witness one of the books being repeatedly opened and pressed flat by the bookbinder. He told me it had never been properly "opened", which any stitched binding should tolerate. He said that it helps to keep the spine flexible, and that if you open any book bound in that way, ideally it should lie flat at whatever place it is opened. In fact he said a thorough "opening" should be the first thing done to any newly purchased book with a properly stitched binding. This was helpful in that book's case as a small section of pages was being refixed into place. I think it was that old "fish" glue that he used.

Seem to have rambled on a bit - sorry.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jul 13 - 11:39 AM

This is all wonderful advice, but I'm a real neophyte to all this and therefore dismally confounded by all the "Terminology" that manufacturers use.

Can anybody tell me the relative qualities and demerits of these products that I've come across online? I quote from the item descriptions, and they are:

--- Heavyweight, crystal clear, 4 mil Mylar D envelopes;

--- Self-sealing L-sleeves for Sheet Music, constructed of archival
    3mil archival polyester with no adhesives;

and

--- Perma/Dur® Sheet Music Folders, manufactured from 225gsm      
    acid-free folder stock that is buffered with 3% calcium carbonate.

Many thanks in advance!


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jul 13 - 12:21 PM

The Perma-Dur stuff is probably porous to moisture, the other two do essentially the same thing.

As paddymac said, most sheet music wasn't printed on acid-free paper. In fact almost all sheet music from 1850 to 1950 was printed on stock so evil and crumbly you wouldn't want to wipe your arse with it. Unless you treat it chemically to remove the chlorine, it'll just sit in your archive packaging turning into brown and brittle confetti with every passing year.


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Jul 13 - 02:39 PM

Hmmm! Whilst I'm all for preserving historical artifacts in the best state possible, I collect and come across material from the early 19th century onwards quite regularly and much of it that hasn't been over-handled is already in pretty good condition, certainly good enough to get from it all the printed information one would want. I store most of mine in large card boxes and have done so for about 40 years and haven't noticed any deterioration. If I had the space and the money to follow some of the above suggestions I would probably do so, but I haven't.


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Subject: RE: Help: Sheet Music Preservation
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Jul 13 - 01:11 PM

I've just been given an archive of over 2,000 individual sheet music documents - some individual scores, some selections and collections - dating from the 1890s to the 1960s. Some are a bit brown and crumbly, but most are in reasonable nick, and I don't intend to do anything special with them except keep them in the crates in which they've been stored for a few years. I certainly haven't got the cash to do anything special with them on an individual basis.

They were the property of a professional pianist and consist mainly of selections from shows, revues and operettas, together with individual popular songs of the period. A real treasure trove, which I'm in the process of indexing fully at the moment.


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