Large Charters of Incorporation
Both Charters served to recognise the ‘veterinary art’ as a profession and incorporated the College, giving the College powers to administer examinations, appoint staff, hold property and to become the professional body seen today.
Previous storage of the charters had caused creasing damage to the vellum sheets and some staining had occurred to the documents. The aim of the project was to relax the documents back to their original flat state, prepare the 1844 Royal Charter for conservation framing, and re-house the 1876 Charter into an appropriate box so it can be accessed easily but safely.
Royal Charter 1844
This Charter consists of multiple sheets of parchment sewn together at the bottom edge, four smaller sheets, over a larger base sheet. The sheets are highly decorated with printed borders, red inked lines and carbon ink manuscript, all attached to a large wax seal with silk braid.
After the Charter was removed from its housing and gently cleaned, the creased areas were relaxed using carefully monitored humidity and gentle pressure applied to reduce planar distortions where possible. A base board, Plastazote and grey archival card laminate were sewn together to provide the backing board for the Charter. The wax seal was rebated into a hole and the braid supported by thin ‘stabiltex’ threads. The Charter was attached using a system of expandable Melinex strips to allow for contraction and expansion of the vellum document. Japanese paper tabs were attached to the back of the vellum sheets using wheat starch paste, and these were attached to the Melinex, and then the backing board using heat-set BEVA film. Once window-mounted the Charter was placed in a conservation grade box frame for display.
Supplemental Charter of 1876
This Charter is similar to the first, but consisting of fewer vellum sheets, all attached to a large wax seal with silk braid. The wax seal in this instance has suffered from heat damage – and the detail of the seal has been largely lost.
Once cleaned and relaxed back to its original flat state this Charter was mounted onto a laminated backing board similar to the 1844 Charter, and the wax seal rebated into it. The larger base sheet was attached to the backing board using the expandable Melinex strip system, leaving the top layers free for consultation. Once stable, an archival lidded box was made, with additional Plastazote in the lid to apply a small amount of pressure to the document providing extra support.
An archival acid free tissue layer and additional grey card window mount shields the document from the Plastazote to avoid any abrasion. This document can now be safely stored and consulted easily without removing from the box.