Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Conservation Lab
• Treatment Examples
Paper Splitting

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Paper Splitting and the Trevelyon Manuscript

One of the crucial steps in conserving the 1608 "Trevelyon Miscellany" was to strengthen each of the manuscript's nearly 300 double-sided leaves. To do so, conservators used a skilled technique called paper splitting in which the front and back of a single sheet of paper are literally split apart. Paper splitting is practiced in only a few institutions in North America, and the Folger was among the first to use it here.


To prepare for paper splitting, support sheets are adhered to both sides of the paper with a gelatin adhesive. After the glue has set, but while the core of the paper is still moist, the support sheets can then be carefully pulled apart, splitting the core of the paper. In these images, former Folger head of conservation Frank Mowery splits a Trevelyon manuscript leaf that shows the embroidery pattern for a cap. A trailing edge of the support material is left unseparated, so the two halves can later be realigned.


Following this delicate process, the two halves of the paper are dried and reassembled with a sheet of Japanese paper sandwiched between them. The Japanese paper at the core is attached with an adhesive that is soluble only in cold water. After it dries, the support sheets can be removed in a bath of very hot water, dissolving the gelatin adhesive, but not the core adhesive.


The Folger conservation staff is currently working with Preservation Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on research to develop a paper-splitting machine. This specialized device would still require a highly skilled conservator, but it would work more quickly than the traditional manual method and, equally important, would not require the use of exterior support sheets.

Conservator Frank Mowery begins to split a manuscript leaf

Conservator Frank Mowery finishes splitting a manuscript leaf

Thomas Trevelyon. Miscellany. Manuscript, 1608

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623