The Infill: 1 June 2017

The Infill: no fake news here

The great unsolved mysteries

The Loch Ness Monster. The identity of Jack the Ripper. Crop circles. Who shot JFK, and who killed Bobby Ewing? We know the answer to the last one (nobody), but six months on we’re still puzzling over the 13% ‘Other’ result in our November ‘digitize or digitalize’ poll. A protest vote by the anti-Z brigade, perhaps? We may well never know, but there are admittedly more pressing cultural heritage conundrums to ponder. Such as, how do you conserve one of the world’s largest prints? What were those allegedly non-flammable plastic sleeves at Archives New Zealand actually made of? And, possibly most curious of all, who on earth likes Comic Sans?

It’s Metals and Minerals Month!

Sigh… how much more satisfying that headline would have been had we got our bums off the couch and finished The Infill yesterday. New Year’s Resolution 2018: make May Metals and Minerals Month. In the meantime, you can celebrate this year’s MMM by heading to the lab with this Canadian Conservation Institute note on how to test for copper and lead. Once you’ve identified some lead, take a moment to gain a new appreciation for this heavy metal with ‘Lead theft: a heavy toll on heritage’. Then breathe a sigh of relief that it is easier to remove graphite from marble and limestone than to recover stolen lead, since at the British Museum up to 50 ancient sculptures per year are (mostly) accidentally tagged by pencil-wielding schoolchildren. Finally, it’s time to head to the greeting card shop. Last year we reported on the accidental discovery of YInMn, a new blue pigment made from an optically pleasing blend of transition and post-transition metals, and we are pleased to announce that it has reached the pinnacle of pigment-dom: it’s gonna be a Crayola Crayon.

Spring cleaning

If you’re unfortunate enough to find blood on archival documents (ick!), there is of course no need to wait until the vernal equinox to clean them. Put on your pinny and click away for a few tips on getting the plasma off the paper. Old books, on the other hand, do not need to be cleaned at all, according to the 70% of survey participants who described the tomes’ aromas as ‘pleasant’ to the authors of the Historic Book Odour Wheel. Presumably they were not the ones whose noses picked up bouquets of “‘fish’, ‘body odour’, ‘rotten socks’ and ‘mothballs'”.

The next time you ask yourself, ‘Is it a bit OCD of me to want to dust under the keys of my piano?’, your decision just might be swayed by the recent discovery of Britain’s largest gold sovereign hoard. And when Dick Van Dyke pops round for his annual sweep, don’t let him throw out that wad of rags in the chimney, lest it turn out to be a rare, gigantic, 17th-century engraved map.

News you can use

Or ignore. It’s really up to you.

Your video treat:

will amaze you by showing how sunlight can pass through marble walls to illuminate (and protect) an entire library.

The final word…

… goes to Smithsonian Magazine, writing on the Victorians’ favourite metalloid, arsenic: ‘Victorians were obsessed with vividly-colored wallpaper, which is on-trend for this year – though arsenic poisoning is never in style’. No matter how many of the cool kids are doing it.

What do you get when you combine metals, minerals and loads of free stuff? One spent Infill team. We’ll see you back next month for Joints and Jackets July. TTFN, The Gathering.

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