In preparation for our exhibit, “Texas Moves Toward Statehood: Stories Behind the Mural,” TSLAC Conservation conducted treatment on a small notebook belonging to German immigrant and Fredericksburg founder John O. Meusebach. This notebook is displayed along with several other Meusebach artifacts, including his famous 1847 Comanche peace treaty.
Meusebach’s notebook, just 5 ½ x 3 ¾ x ½ inches, features leather-trimmed, shaped wooden boards with a gold-tooled leather spine piece. Boards are hand-illustrated with German verse and drawings relevant to Texas. Gold-tooled leather loops at the boards’ front edge hold a small pencil; when the pencil is inserted, the volume is fastened shut. Inside, the boards are lined with cream-colored silk. Silk pockets inside each board are further lined with bright, turquoise-colored paper. The notebook itself is separate from the boards, sewn into a flexible cover of cream-colored silk, turquoise paper, and gold foil decorative strips.
The outer case had been previously repaired with pressure-sensitive tape along the inside and outside of its spine, with tape adhered to both leather and silk. During treatment, tape and adhesive were mechanically removed from the leather, revealing losses in the spine and the full detachment of the front board. Tape removal from the degraded silk was more problematic, especially because much of the silk was baggy and loose across the spine region. Working with a heated spatula allowed partial success. Toned Japanese tissue was then adhered to support and fill the remaining silk.
The next step was to reattach the front board and fill the revealed spine losses with toned tissue. This step required some testing and adjustment of tissue placement and adhesives, since the small, ornately decorated notebook allowed very small adhesive surfaces.
You can see the resulting notebook on display in “Texas Moves Toward Statehood: Stories Behind the Mural.” The Texas State Library and Archives is now open on the second Saturday of every month from 9 AM to 4 PM.