I have a civil war periodical that was written on with a ball point pen (back when we were kids). Is there anyway I can remove the ink without harming the already fragile paper?
Suzy from Phoenix
PLEASE do not attempt to remove the ink. I worked for nearly 10 years in the museum industry, and I can tell you that you will only do more damage. If you feel the item has monetary value, contact your local museum and ask them if they can give you the name of a professional who can attempt the work for you. It will cost money, but may be worth it. Otherwise, just leave it as is.
Other tips: always wash your hands with plain soap before handling it, or invest a few dollars in some plastic gloves (disposables are fine). The natural oils on your skin contain acids which will, over time, destroy the paper. Also, keep the item wrapped in a clean cloth (no fabric softeners), instead of in a box (or keep it wrapped within the box). Unless you have archival quality boxes, the pulp used in manufacturing the box will also be acidic and cause damage over time.
contact a professional
I live in the metro Phoenix area too, and I agree that you don't want to try to remove the marks yourself. You may want to call some of our local excellent museums and historic societies because I've always found them to be very helpful. You could even call the information desk at the Phoenix library and see what they have to say.
Good luck and stay cool! :-)
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