Picturesque Views of American Scenery

green book wrapper with printed text before conservation treatment
green book wrapper with printed text after conservation treatment

Picturesque Views of American Scenery (Mathew Carey and Son, 1820-1821), by Joshua Shaw; printed by John Hill (plates) and James Maxwell (letterpress).

This first edition and rare book is one of the earliest American color-plate publications, with twenty hand-colored aquatint engravings. The book was issued in three parts in blue printed wrappers between 1820 and 1821. Over time, the paper had become increasingly brittle to the point that the book could not safely be used by researchers. Ironically, the tissue paper that was meant to protect the engravings was acidic and foxed; it was no longer a protection but a source of further deterioration. Conservation for this book included: collation and surface cleaning of all leaves (pages of the book); mending tears and filling in losses with Japanese paper; removing the original tissues and providing new acid-free tissues for each plate; non-aqueously deacidifying the textblock and the back of the colored plates with magnesium oxide; constructing a new clamshell box enclosure to protect the paper-bound book; and digitizing the book in color.