Discoveries on Closer Inspection
A first glance at “Key to Accompanying Perspective View from Summit of Ainslie” (hereafter referred to as “The Key”) shows a simple ferrogallic print with red ink annotations on very discoloured paper. Closer examination, though, reveals that there is a lot more to this particular print.
Firstly, it is 2362mm long and 715mm wide, so it is rather large!
The red ink annotations appear to be in two different ink tones, but when examined up close, it is actually the same ink. Some of the annotations are written directly over graphite pencil under-drawings, which cause the red ink to look darker. These graphite under-drawings are generally associated with the written annotations, but there are instances of them as stand-alone annotations. For example, in the image below, the word “Forum” can just be made out between the words “Justice” and “Water”. There are also black ink corrections where the original ferrogallic lines have been removed (by scraping) and redrawn.
Even the remnants of this script must be carefully avoided during surface cleaning so that they are not removed.
An interesting aside, which illustrates the haste the Griffins were in to get The Key to Australia, is a spelling mistake in one of the annotations. The word “Railway” appears as “Ralway” and has not been corrected.
Further to the annotations applied by the Griffins themselves, there are several registry stamps and descriptions written in ink and pencil on the outside edges of the print, which would have been visible when the print was rolled.
There are two areas of staining from strips of masking tape applied to the back of the object, holding torn sections together. Curiously, these stains on the front do not correspond exactly with the position of the tape on the back. Rather, the staining has occurred when the object was tightly rolled and the masking tape carrier came into contact with the front of the print.
All these different inks add character to the item, but they also inform the treatment proposal. If any of these inks are soluble in water or organic solvents, then those solvents cannot be applied to the object. Fortunately, after solubility testing, the inks do not appear to be water soluble, so if moisture has to be introduced to the object in the course of the treatment, the inks should not be affected.
The pencil under-drawings mean that any surface cleaning with erasers has to be extremely carefully carried out so as not to remove these original lines. The surface cleaning will be undertaken with two different approaches – one for broad area cleaning and one for fine, detailed work (stay tuned…).