Conserve

 The Importance of Conservation of Brader's Drawings

The purpose of this page is to promote understanding of the causes of the darkening and deterioration of Brader drawings, and to show the results of the professional conservation treatment on some of the drawings.   Scroll down to see before-and-after photos and for links to conservation studios where drawings by Ferdinand Brader have been treated.   If you have any conservation stories to share, please contact us.

"One cannot overestimate the importance of these drawings."  
-  Professor C. Richard Beam,  Director, The Center for Pennsylvania German Studies


"I would caution people from making their drawings worse by home remedies like erasers and adhesive tape and if they can’t afford conservation to at least consider conservation matting and refitting with conservation backing boards.  Owners often try to unroll a brittle drawing which needs to be done by a professional to avoid splits in the brittle fibers.  This unrolling is even tricky for professionals and can take time, experience and patience."  
-  Suesanna K. Voorhees, retired conservator

"For survival, every discolored Brader drawing needs to undergo aqueous treatment of for the removal of  accumulated acids...Those who do nothing leave their drawings on a path to destruction." - Bob Lodge, McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory

An example of conservation treatment 
by McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory

BEFORE: Overall discoloration of paper; water stain along bottom of paper;
vertical dark stains caused by open splits in the frame's original wood back
.
AFTER:  Aqueous treatment has removed a good amount of the discoloration.
Black spacer has been installed along the edge of glazing.

Aqueous treatment




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A CONVERSATION WITH BOB LODGE

Bob Lodge and Gina McKay are known nationally for the excellence of their work at McKay Lodge FIne Arts Conservation Laboratory in Oberlin Ohio (440) 774-4215

Bob, why are these drawings slowly turning so dark? 
The sometimes extreme discoloration, or browning, of the papers sheets on which Ferdinand Brader drew would have multiple causes. For one, though they may vary in manufacture according to his local buying, it may be assumed that these sheets of “cartridge paper” were all made from wood pulp, perhaps varying from the crudest mechanical grinding of wood to a suitable pulp to more sophisticated chemical treatment and pulp cooking processes. Thus, at the start, the papers were, we can say with certainty, acidic. Acids in paper eventually destroys paper.
Are there other contributing factors?
For some of the sheets at least, Ferdinand Brader apparently supplied outside acids by “sizing” his finished drawings with a brush wash of buttermilk – this having a pH reading of acidity as low as 4.4. and an upper common limit of 4.8.
What about those wood back boards?
The next attack on his papers was the common 19th century framing method where the back of a framed paper art work was closed with very thin pieces of knotty, rough sawn, wood. Often that wood, which is acidic, was in direct contact with the back of the paper.
So, the acid is destroying the paper. Is there any way to stop that?
Fortunately, both the browning of most papers and some of the accumulated acids are water soluble and if the surface media can withstand aqueous treatments, removal of undesirable brown color and some of the acids can be accomplished at once. Such aqueous treatments provide the dual benefit of removal of acids that would continue to degrade the paper and the removal of some extent of the browning.
What can an owner do?
For survival, every discolored Brader drawing needs to undergo aqueous treatments for the removal of accumulated acids. This is not something everyone may be able to afford. Those who do nothing leave their Brader drawings on a path of destruction. Minimally, a darkened Brader drawing should be kept in the dark, in a cool and low humidity environment, and off the floor and in an active area to discourage silverfish.

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Chippewa-Rogues Hollow Historical Society plans to conserve their two drawings!
Fund-raising for this worthy cause begins in April
Residence of John & Marÿ Schweisgood, 
Doÿlestown Ohio.
Residence of William N. and Barbara Ries. 
Chippewa Tp. Waÿne Countÿ Ohio 1888.
A fun fund-raiser at Silver Wine Winery, which provided the wine pairings for the specially prepared small plates, a silent auction of overflowing baskets, an Antiques Rogue Show by auctioneer Eric Pandrea.  The April 2015 event, organized beautifully and enthusiastically by Mary Mertic and her colleagues, was a huge success.
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Residence of David Gibson
An example of conservation treatment
completed at
 McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory

BEFORE
Residence of David Gibson, no. 724, circa 1890,  (21 1/4 x 30 inches)
© McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory 
This drawing of the Residence of David Gibson is owned by Larry Coley, great grandson of Daniel Gibson.  The Gibson family had a general store across the street from the house, and their story is that Brader drew this from its second floor window.  The house still stands at 7569 Middlebranch Road, Canton, Ohio.

The drawing has deteriorated and shows what will happen to any drawing that has not been treated. The acids present in the wood pulp of the paper cause overall darkening, tears and disintegration into pieces.  There are several factors at work here, including the wooden backing used in frames of this period, which is also highly acidic, as are humidity, light, and the buttermilk with which Brader apparently "finished" his drawings.

AFTER
Residence of David Gibson, no. 724, circa 1890,  (21 1/4 x 30 inches)
© McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory 
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Residence of James E. Wilson
An example of conservation treatment
 completed at
 Crist Conservation

BEFORE
Residence of James E. Wilson, no. 557, 1887 (14 x 20 inches),
 © Amy Crist
AFTER
Residence of James E. Wilson, no. 557, 1887 (14 x 20 inches),
  © Amy Crist
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Residence of Daniel and Minnie Weaver
An example of conservation treatment
BEFORE
Residence of Daniel & Minnie Weaver, no. 603, 1888 (33 x 47 1/2 inches),
  © McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory
AFTER
Residence of Daniel & Minnie Weaver, no. 603, 1888 (33 x 47 1/2 inches),
 © McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory


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CONSERVATION LINKS

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
A great resource for those who are interested in the
preservation and conservation of our cultural heritage.


Here below are links to some conservators who have treated Brader drawings:

 Crist Conservation
Amy Crist 
Cleveland, Ohio (216) 233-7091

McKay Lodge  Conservation Laboratory
Gina McKay
Oberlin, Ohio   (440) 774-4215

 Niagara Art Conservation
Stephanie Porto
Niagara Falls, Ontario   (906) 980-1622

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If you cannot afford conservation, at least consider conservation matting and refitting with conservation backing boards.  Here are the names are of frame shops where Brader drawings have been refitted with acid-free backing. 

Dave Peffer / Harold Peffer
Canton, Ohio (330) 493-7581

Christian Harwell
Canton, Ohio (330) 452-9787

Bonfoey Art Gallery
Cleveland, Ohio  (216) 621-0178

If you can make additional recommendations for conservators and framers, please contact us so that we may add to this list.   

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