Journal of the Institute of Conservation
wooden box, rare book, bamboo paper, balsa wood, accelerated aging, conservation
The National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan not only houses a considerable collection of Qing Dynasty rare books, but also contains a large number of wooden boxes used for their storage. Wooden boxes are functional relics, primarily made to protect and store rare books but, over time, they tend to age unpredictably, resulting in structural deformation or cracks. Compounded by the minor impacts caused by their repeated opening and closing, the main box body is thus likely to sustain damage or even disintegrate. Conservation maintenance is therefore necessary to preserve both the function and the authenticity of these wooden boxes. When selecting repair materials, it is important to consider the potential negative effects any materials may have on the paper contained within. This study investigates the effect of common wood repair materials on bamboo paper. Where situations demand specific textural and strength requirements past evidence indicates that paulownia wood and black walnut are more suitable in preserving the functional demands of long-term storage and use of wooden boxes. However, results showed that balsa wood had the least impact on bamboo paper samples and these findings suggest that if no conflicting functional, structural or decorative requirements apply, balsa wood should be the primary option for wooden box repair.