CONSERVATION MATTERS

 

Vinylite

In 1940, the American papyrologist Edmund Kase Jr. took a large number of papyrus fragments from the tin boxes and put them between two sheets of a plastic material called Vinylite. The two sheets were then heatsealed. The photographs show the heatsealing of the fragments.

Although at the time the Vinylite seemed to have nothing but advantages, time has shown that is also has numerous disadvantages which could even harm the papyrus. The flexibility of the Vinylite caused fragments of papyrus to break off inside the frame. Due to the static electricity occuring between two sheets of Vinylite, these papyrus fragments then started to move around.

Glass

Glass is still the best material to store papyrus in. In the course of time, several papyri from the collection have been remounted between sheets of glass. Only with the beginning of the activities in the light of the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS) in 1996, the remounting of papyri from Vinylite into glass was taken on in a systematic manner. Since the beginning of APIS, more than 1000 papyri have been remounted into glass.

One of the major problems during this activity was the occurrence of statical electricity when opening the sheets of Vinylite. Papyrus fragment might stick to different sides, causing the papyrus to be torn into pieces. With the help of the Berkeley Engineering department, a solution was found: the de-ionizing fan, which blows just a little air over the piece to remove the static electricity.