Did you know that some books are poisonous!?
Have no fear! Winterthur’s Conservation team is here!
Winterthur’s Conservation staff has figured out that some bookcloth from the mid-1800s was colored with an extremely toxic arsenic-based inorganic pigment. Known as “Emerald Green,” this pigment was very popular in the United States and England during the Victorian era. It was widely used to color textiles for home decoration and apparel, wallpaper, and toys, but we need to know more about how much it was used in coloring bookcloth because it can be toxic for book readers!
These mass-produced Victorian bookbindings can be found in libraries and private book collections all over the world. Winterthur’s conservator for library materials, Dr. Melissa Tedone, and her team are creating a database of dangerous books and providing tips for how to make them safe for people to handle them. Information about the growing Poison Book Project database is publicly available online, but we want to get the word out to any libraries or individuals who may own these dangerous emerald green beauties. With your generous support, we can print bookmarks to mail around the world showing folks how to identify these toxic bindings. Any additional funds will be used to hire a conservation technician to continue testing even more books for other dangerous pigments because “Emerald Green” isn’t the only one; there’s a potentially toxic rainbow of Victorian hues!
$1,000 will cover the cost of printing bookmarks for libraries for one year.
$10,000 will cover the cost of a semester-long internship for an early-career conservation technician to continue XRF scanning which books are unsafe for book lovers around the world.
Supporters who contribute $20 or more will receive a Poison Book Project bookmark.
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