Historical manuscript with mould, insect damage and adhered pages.
I was called to the reading room at the archive I was working in, as a reader was having difficulty accessing text due to pages in this manuscript being stuck together. I quickly realised there was mould present so I quarantined the item and arranged for cleaning of the surface it had been on and requested the reader washed their hands.
Hindi 442 manuscript had multiple problems:
-Heavy mould infestation
-In some places the ink had stuck to the adjacent page causing tearing of the paper upon handling and capturing pockets of mould within.
-The paper had been eaten by insects with large losses
-The paper was very brittle, with tears and losses.
The mould constituted a health and safety risk
The item could not be viewed due to page adhesions
Handling put the document at risk from tearing pages due to severe insect damage
A reader wished to access the text
Mould removal was carried out by brush and suction with a HEPA Filtered device. With the conservator wearing PPE and using a mould suction work station.
Adhered pages were separated, using a micro spatula and ultrasonic mist.
The decision as to what kind or repair technique to use was directed by two key factors. The ink was water soluble, evident by its previous tendency to create adhesions. Minimum wetting was desirable to prevent any missed spoors from reactivating therefore a re-moistenable tissue (where the water could be kept low) was chosen.
The decision was taken not to infill missing areas with a heavier tissue in areas that has had large losses. This decision was based on the minimal intervention approach that we have at the archive where the object is stored, time constraint and the fact that the manuscript was going to be digitised to minimise the future need for handling.
The first page, which was the most severely damaged, was enclosed in a three-side welded Melenex folder.
The item was digitised to allow online access, to minimise handling.
A custom- made archival box was created for the item. Including a four -flap inner folder inside an archival box. The box had a label warning that the item had been treated for mould and the date of treatment. As a precautionary warning for people with mould sensitivity.