‘What, more books?’

Yes indeed, I had the privilege of cleaning some more of our Great Hall books and found some very interesting things therein. Being careful as much as naturally curious, I’ve been checking most of the books as I go, to keep an eye on the inventory numbers so they get returned to the shelves in the right order. This cuts down the possibility of getting muddled and is a good excuse to have a quick scan of the content. Having been, shall we say, ‘more than happy’ to kiss my printing career goodbye, I nevertheless have retained a love of old books over the years, with a particular interest in how paper was produced, the printing styles and techniques used. As I gazed over one volume in particular, my mental brakes were slammed on and I had a…’what the’… moment. What caught my eye was a fly. Or gnat or baby mosquito, what ever it was, it was squashed into the page. My first thought, naturally, as a trainee-semi-professional type was to decide if it was recent. Judging by the colouration and lack of imprint of the mini-beastie on the opposite page, it had been there for some time. ( I should mention at this point, my second thought, was ‘Oooh… Jurassic Park! Let’s clone a 17th century person from the dna!’) I would like to think that it is historic, as a 300 year old gnat flying too close while the paper was in production is a bit more of a romantic notion, than a 21st bug too daft to get out of the way the last time the book was shut…

Book worms are devastating little critters and thankfully, the only evidence I found had been there for sometime. There was no indication the holes were fresh and no ‘frass’. This is a powdery deposit left behind by munchers. But this was no ordinary pattern of devastation. This looked suspiciously like a ‘Rorschach ink blot’, and my instant mental description of the image was a turtle but from another page looked like a juggling beetle. Apologies for my overactive imagination but as they say in downtown LA, ‘that’s how I roll’…

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About arlingtoncourtblog

Welcome to my blog! I've been keeping it to document my training as a Conservation Assistant for the National Trust at Dyrham Park. View all posts by arlingtoncourtblog

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