What’s the best way to care for an old Bible from 1809? Currently it’s in a plastic bag on a bookshelf.
My first piece of advice is to take it out of the plastic bag. Plastic releases chemical compounds that accelerate deterioration. In addition, this kind of airtight material creates a microclimate. If there’s any humidity, mould can start to grow. At the same time, acids produced by the decay of the book’s components may speed up the deterioration. Deterioration mechanisms are an exciting field to study.
On the other hand, you have made sure that the book is protected from dust, which is also important. I recommend that you get an acid-free clamshell box and some acid-free tissue paper. These are available from suppliers of archival products. Pad the bottom of the box with tissue paper, lay the Bible flat in the box, and then roll up some more some tissue paper to pad around the edges.
Kind regards from Alexandra, paper conservator
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