As is well known conservation of papers involves careful preparation
of the conservation statues, fumigation, washing, deacidification
and bleaching, mending and lamination - if the paper object is
brittle. These processes are in use for long. However, this paper
intends to argue that these operational methods need reconsideration
for more than one reason. First, the relationship between treatment
of paper properties and ageing of paper has to be given appropriate
attention. Second, the steps involved in conservation have long-term
reactions on physical and chemical properties of all the components
of paper including the fibres, fibrils and cellulose polymer
The paper properties are greatly governed by the manufacturing
processes and chemical properties of a paper sheet derived primarily
from variables of furnish or pulp components. These variables
include the fibre type, pulp stock, refining techniques such
as beating or bleaching and compositions including fillers, size,
coating and colorants ends. Each (of these) component has different
and distinct physical and chemical property, which ultimately
finalize behaviour of the paper while interacting with environment.
The inherent residual material used may add to deterioration.
The environmental factors initiate degradation mechanism like
hydrolysis, oxidation, causing brittleness and browning in the
The following processes of treating paper may be critically
reviewed as follows:
Washing and Deacidification: Washing in paper
conservation, refers to overall treatment of the paper with aqueous
solution and most of the time washing is done with distilled
water or deionised water. This highly purified water can dissolve
the stabilizing magnesium and calcium component of paper. A prevalent
notion is that the water supplied by Municipal Corporations contains
dissolve salts and should not be used in washing or other relevant
treatments in the paper conservation, but normally water supplied
by Calcutta Municipal Corporation which is neutral in pH contains
dissolved calcium and magnesium along with other ions, those
inhibits migration of these ions from paper to washing solution.
Use of distilled or deionised water therefore be reconsidered.
Washing and deacidification are the two most fundamentally
important stages of paper's conservation. The wet ability of
paper is essentially important. Washing with good penetration
removes soluble acidity from the paper. Calcium hydroxide and
magnesium bicarbonate solutions are mainly employed for the purpose
in later stages. The paper object, ink written documents &
watercolours on paper are immersed in such solutions. The discoloured
solution is replaced and the object is put into fresh deacidifying
solution. This normal procedure is easy to use as long as the
ink or colours do not bleed in water. But problem arises when
modern inks or the colours bleed and dissolve with water treatment.
In such cases, the fixation of fugitive colours & ink is
essential. This is generally done by applying or spraying 1 or
2% solution of Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) in toluene. Of late, the
use of PVA as fixative has been found undesirable and harmful
in the long run. The following facts may be presented this connection.
(1) Polyvinyl Acetate is a polymer of vinyl acetate.