This spring a scrapbook compiled by the Dartmouth Educational Association came in for some minimal repairs. This archival volume is a bound book with numbered pages. It holds a collection of loose items that have been added to the book over time. Scrapbook compilers have not always given consideration to the long-term effects of their methods, often choosing materials they have on hand. That’s likely the case with this volume, because only one of the methods (paper clip) doesn’t alter the item. Its contents, though, are in pretty good shape. Despite its overfilled pages, the book needed little more than a spine repair. I thought I would highlight some of the attachment methods used in this volume, concerns about their use, as well as share some tips for attaching loose items to pages with an eye toward longer-term preservation of those items.
Paper Clips and Brads:
On this page, both a paper clip (the triangular silver metal piece) and a brad (the brass-colored item) have been used. Both are made of metal, which can be prone to rust over time in certain environmental conditions. (Though no rust was found here.) The brad also requires a hole in both the item and the page in which to place the flanges. Modern paper clips are available in plastic or coated metal that should not rust. Be careful of causing creases in the paper if using paper clips, and choose the proper size to accommodate the thickness of the papers.
Interestingly, eyelets were used in this album. I imagine they were attached using an eyelet setter like this classic Bates Eyeleter. This method requires a hole in both the page and the item attached, similar to the brad attachment. Even without moisture to create rust, it’s possible for metal to discolor or damage the paper on a facing page as a result of friction or pressure.
Some of the items were stapled onto the pages. Staples create holes in the item as well as the pages and can be hard to remove without causing damage to both. They are also made of metal and therefore can rust in a humid environment.
It’s hard to tell whether this card was attached with paste or glue. Adhesives are a pretty permanent method of attachment. Some pastes (as opposed to glues) are often reversible, however they can leave evidence of their use.
The items that were attached to these pages used some kind of permanent alteration to the item itself (application of adhesive or holes in the paper) except for the paper clip. When considering which attachment method to use in a similar type of album these days, here are a few other options that do not require applying glue to or piercing holes into the item, though they require glue or holes in the album page itself.
To mount a photograph or other flat item onto a book page, make cuts in the base paper (a slit) or remove a narrow slice of paper (a slot) for thicker material. By locating these cuts diagonally at the four corners, the item can be slipped in and will stay without any adhesive.
Photo corners come in a variety of styles: self-adhesive, gummed, clear, black or white paper, and they can easily be made by hand. Look for ones that pass the P.A.T. test (photo activity test) or have archival qualities, such as being made from acid-free materials. To make your own corners take a thin strip of acid-free paper (about 1/4-inch), at the center of the strip fold one side up at a 45-degree angle.
Then fold the other side up to meet and match the first side. Now you have a corner. Vary the thickness of the paper strip to change the size of the corner for larger or smaller photos. Once the corner is created, use acid-free tape or adhesive to attach to the mounting page or board. These can be used for other flat items as well as photographs.
Pockets & Envelopes:
Pockets or envelopes (choose ones made of acid-free materials) are a great way to add loose items to a page. They can be handmade or purchased and can be paper or clear Mylar. Mylar allows a view of the item without removing it. Use an acid-free adhesive (like glue or double-sided tape) to attach pockets and envelopes to the page.
With all these methods remember to accommodate the thickness of the items added to a bound volume by balancing the binding edge thickness with the foredge thickness to avoid the foredge splaying out and the book not closing. For just a few items this shouldn’t be a problem.
Written by Stephanie Wolff