Some of the colorful, decorated manuscripts called fraktur which are part of the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art collection, were selected to undergo cleaning and conservation at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia.
The Museum holds nearly 130 fraktur, including birth and baptismal certificates, confirmation certificates, marriage certificates, religious texts and memorial pieces. The collection contains freehand fraktur by at least 30 artists who practiced during what is called fraktur’s Golden Age (1790 to 1830), and examples of machine printed fraktur, many of which were personalized by artists. The Museum staff selected 32 fraktur for conservation based on historic and artistic value, some from Ephrata Cloister, a leader in early American printing.
Through a Save America’s Treasures grant, CCHA conservators will clean each fraktur with special grated and sold vinyl eraser, consolidate media and glazes and other conserving techniques, and reduce stains. They will mend and fill losses and humidify and flatten each document, and hinge each fraktur to an alkaline mat. Once returned to the Museum, they will be stored in the new flat files in the “works on paper” room that was built with the new museum addition. The process was featured in the CCAHA July newsletter. – W.G.