Case of a 150 year old engineering drawing

June 26, 2018   By Manit
When we first saw the drawing on site, it appeared to be in a fairly good condition. Once it arrived in our conservation lab and we started a thorough diagnosis, there were a lot many observations and analytical details that were required to be considered before any treatment methodology could be prescribed or finalized. In this blog post we will share some simpler diagnostic observations. IMG_5064
  1. The drawing is showing full-width horizontal creases at regular intervals suggesting that it must have been kept rolled for a long time before getting framed.3
  2. There are creases and marks created by framing too. 9cats
  3. Apart from the horizontal creases created by rolling, there were many smaller creases in vertical direction (may be because of handling). 10

4. Besides the physical distortions like creases, we also found a couple of biological deteriorating agents, namely, fungus/mold and termite larvae.


possibly, larvae of termite

5. Another interesting feature is  regarding the apparent surface coating provided between the first draft and the final drawing. This is evident from two observations:

a.  We can see a clearer original paper in a portion where a drop of water or some other liquid seems to have fallen. 3

b.  Certain areas have lighter ink as there seems to be a layer of some surface coating and some other lines are drawn on top of the surface coating.  The surface coating also bears tiny brownish fibers that are just on the top, not in the depths of paper.4

                                     Detail showing under-drawing and the top lines


Author: namitajaspal
Namita Jaspal, with inherited skills of art and aesthetics and passion for science, opted to pursue post- graduation in ‘Conservation of Cultural Property’ after her graduation in Science from Delhi University in 1992. Four year intense training at National Museum Institute provided the right foundation to start a career in Conservation. She is currently practicing conservation consultancy for Heritage property including monuments and collections. She has been doing independent research in conservation techniques and procedures in Indian context. She is currently working on the conservation of wall-paintings of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden temple at Amritsar. The project is nearing completion and getting a lot of appreciation for the organized and ethical treatment it is providing. It is for the first time in the history of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden Temple) that wall painting conservation and preservation is being done in a scientific manner, keeping the codes of Ethics into consideration while decision making. Another project just completed is of the Conservation of Krishna Temple at Kishankot, Gurdaspur, Punjab. In her private Conservation Laboratory, she is not only providing onservation services, but also mentoring young aspiring conservators and archaeologists by the way of training and paid internships. She has been a guest lecturer at DIHRM (Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management). With all the updated knowledge database and innovative practical approaches relevant to the Indian conditions, she could successfully do curative and preservative treatment of very old textiles like a nine feet long flag from nineteenth century that is regarded as priceless memorabilia of second Dogra regiment at Chandi Mandir, and four hundred years old (seventeenth century) Chola Sahib Ji of Sixth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Hargobind Sahib Ji. Apart from this she has done conservation of Photograph collections, archival records, numerous paintings, manuscripts and other cultural objects. She is also involved in preparation of up-gradation proposals for museums and such organizations. Her expertise includes Conservation and preservation technologies and procedures for conservation of varied material like wall paintings, paper, photographs, textile, ceramics, stone, metal and archaeological objects.

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