Restoration of a 19th c. lottery game by M.J & Cie.
6è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game – Conservation (Part I) by Ségolène Girard
Seg is speaking !
Finally after a year, here my conservation process. No more talking, let’s get to work.
First, I dismounted the cardboard base that was covered with mold, in order to get rid of it rapidly. It was easy to do since the paper flaps of the base were already unstuck from it. Then I pulled the nails out, it was more delicate because they were so rusted they could break at any moment and remain in the wooden base, unreachable.
Then I dusted all of the game with soft brushes, and powdered rubber. Just like a peeling ! Making sure to go everywhere, insisting on the intern metal parts now accessible with harder brushes made of pig bristle. Everything was removed with soft large brushes of goat hair.
This is a picture of the papers on the lid after this process, you can see the rubber is absolutely grey :
Here is a better picture of its aspect before and after the dusting treatment :
Just with that simple process, it sure looks better ! But that is not all, dusting is extremely important for the interventions to come ; indeed, we are about to bring water to take the papers off. The maximum of the dirt needs to be removed before bringing up some water, because it could cause more stains, or encrust even more the paper.
The papers need to be removed in order to clean them into a bath if the colors holds fine to the paper. The side papers are not too complicated to remove because the sides of the box are already quite flat.
The harder part is the top paper, because the cardboard is curved, and the paper, almost unstuck, is ripping at the limit stuck-unstuck.
We cannot bring directly water on the box, because the cardboard would disintegrate. Now how do we proceed ?
Let me introduce to you ; The Gore-tex® !
This technology created especially for the needs of restoration is the sort of gauze here on the picture. It transforms the water held in the soaked blotters (ivory form), into water gas ! The plastic sheet is called Melinex®. It creates a dampening room, this way, the paper will unstuck gently through a night, without any risk of making halos. The only inconvenient is the length of the process, since I had to do it side by side for logical reasons. But it was worth it !
The brown watermarks in the bottom were there already, and that is one of the reason I now processed to a bath, and did as well with all of the other papers.
Cleaning them is important for several reasons ;
=> Visually, it would be nice to remove the remaining dirt that is really encrusted in the paper.
=> Then, it will help us to flatten them, and also the cardboard of the lid, which has to be done separately since the cardboard and the paper moved differently beginning at the moment they got separated by the flood.
=> Flattening them will allow us to repair the tears and gaps, remount golden papers on the edges, and to stick it back on the cardboard.
=> Finally, water will do good by reuniting the fibers of the paper, reorienting them, and getting the oxidize particles off. Indeed, any paper made after the middle of the 19th century has chemical components, that oxidize with time and yellows the paper. This process is inherent to the composition of the paper. We cannot stop it, but we can slow it down with bath.
Be careful, this is not something you can do at home ! Many people use also whiteners ; now if you did not know, never redo this ! You are only destroying further your object. It sure looks great and white again after the bath, but it will now be destroying itself ten times more rapidly, in ten years it will be even yellower than before the bath, a former yellow color that it had gain within 150 years.
After having done tests in order to see if the painting held well on the paper, I put them into a bath of water only. You can see the upper paper, and a torn bottom flap. They are laying down on a non-weaved fabric used in restoration, the papers are actually very thin and brittle, and the cloth allows us to take them off the water with no risk of tearing them (a philatelist’s dream !).
With soft brushes and a gentle action I removed all the dirt I could, which was easier as it was softened.
You can see how the paper regained its original color.