A client bought into Artlab’s Consultation Day some English newspaper clippings her great-great grandmother had collected in her early twenties whilst living in England. One of the clippings included the front page from News of the World newspaper printed one week after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
The great-great grandmother gave her granddaughter the article as a keepsake before she passed away in 1958. After immigrating to Australia in 1969, the granddaughter placed the newspaper in a brown paper bag and stored it with other letters, photos and mementos, where it stayed untouched for the next fifty or so years.
The client remembers as a child, her grandmother talking about the “Titanic clipping” but no one in the family had viewed the newspaper. In early 2000’s, the brown paper bag was opened to reveal the paper had deteriorated significantly and it could not be handled safely. Despite efforts to persuade her grandparent to preserve the clipping, the client could not convince her to explore the possibility of conserving the newspaper.
In February 2021 the grandmother sadly passed away and the "Titanic clipping" was a family legend by this point. When sorting through her belongings, the client’s Mother discovered the brown paper bag and as soon as she saw the yellow-brown paper, which was crumbling along the folds, she realised it was the Titanic clipping.
The client kindly provided Artlab’s Paper Conservator with the above historical information and we have included a quote from her letter sent to the conservator, “I searched for a place that specialised in paper conservation, hopeful but not overly confident there was enough material that could be salvaged. We were grateful and appreciative of the work that was done by Artlab, who managed to conserve what was an incredibly fragile, crumbling, fragmented piece of 110-year-old newspaper. When the conservation treatment was complete, it was really surreal to be able to see and read a newspaper that had been saved for so long and transported across the world. It provided a deeply emotional and sentimental connection to our Grandmother, and in turn, to her Grandmother.”
When the Paper Conservator received the newspaper clipping it was folded in half three times. Once unfolded, it was evident that the page had separated into six separate parts due to embrittlement. The paper was discoloured, very brittle and fragile with significant tears and losses along the edges and fold lines.
The clipping underwent washing and deacidification. This was to remove any soluble acidic deterioration products, such as discolouration, and to make the paper more flexible. Once washed and dried, the clipping was pieced together from the front and tacked into place. The clipping, now pieced together, was lined from the back with a very thin Japanese tissue and the losses infilled with toned paper. A custom folder and archival plastic sleeve were created to keep the clipping safe during long-term storage.
The Paper Conservator advised the client to make professional copies of the Titanic clipping and store the original in a custom-made solander box. The copies are now on display, and the original will be bought out during special occasions.
A special thank you to the client for kindly providing the information and story for this project.
Front page view of Titanic clipping before treatment by Laura Daenke, Paper Conservator, Artlab Australia.
Back page view of Titanic article before treatment.
During treatment the clipping is washed.
Detail of losses once clipping was washed, flattened and pieced together.
Detail of losses infilled during the treatment.
Front page of Titanic newspaper after final treatment by Laura Daenke.
Back page view of Titanic clipping after final treatment.
Titanic newspaper clipping mounted.