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Comics Restoration and Conservation

How To Detect Restoration70

Collector PovRow private msg quote post Address this user
I will start this with a "paper" I wrote many years ago that still holds true today. I am making some small changes/edits that I've wanted to make for some time now. So without further ballyhoo:

Detecting Restoration for Regular People by PovRow (aka Povertyrow)

The following are simply guidelines. Don't hold me accountable and especially don't get all geared up and think you saw or have a restored book based on this. This information is definitely meant to be combined with experience. but it can be used as a starting point to help gain that experience.

Replaced Staples
Use a magnifying glass to examine the staple area. Paper that is tearing at the staples can be caused from the act of bending staples up for removal.
Also see if the staple indentations in the paper align with the staples. If they don;t that is another sign the staples may have been either replaced or at least removed.
See if slightly darker (aka metallic) stains match where the staples are now. This can help indicate staples that have been untouched, but the effect that can be recreated.

Color Touch
Check for any color from the cover that has bled into the pages below or the back of the cover. This can indicate magic marker “restoration”.

Check for dull or glossier area of color on the cover. If found, examine under good light to see if a crease is detectable. Also, check the back of the cover in the same area to see if a crease is revealed there.

Hold the cover up to the light and allow light to pass through from behind to look for areas of roughing that have been color touched but have left the paper a bit thinner.

Using a magnifier, look at the dot pattern of suspect areas. Comics are printed with 4-color process using a dot pattern. (Look at a newspaper photo to see dots). Retouch will not usually reproduce the dot pattern. You will just see a smear of color with no dots. Do you see dots that the abrubtly stop or stop and start again? Most likely color touch.

On very deep colors, though, the inks may have been at 100% so no dot pattern would be there. In that case again look at the surface for gloss and texture that differ from the surrounding area.

Ink Transfer Stain Removal
Impossible to detect unless it is not fully successful. Examine the inside back and front covers for a green ink transfer stain. If it appears light but mottled instead of smooth and even, it may been subject to removal but had proved too extensive for total removal. If you find this is the case, re-examine the staples VERY carefully as ink transfer removal generally means dismantling.

Tear Seals
Different techniques are used to seal a tear.

Glue (preferably archival glue with a neutral PH). This type of seal is easily identified as a slightly grayish or brownish or otherwise discolored line along the edge of the tear. The line is usually a slightly twisty line that follows the angles of a tear. This is detectable because the tear is still visible and there is a change of reflectivity/color from the glue.

Archival "tear repair tape" - you can get it in most art supply stores, and just apply as small a piece as needed to the tear. Just like using a piece of scotch tape to tape paper together. This is easily detected by a dulling on the side where the paper has been taped and the back side displaying no dulling. (The tape is quite transparent but does not reflect light the same as the plain paper does.)

The third is using Japan Paper and methyl-cellulose or wheat/rice paste. It can be a bit harder to detect but look for a slightly dull "sheen" that reflects light differently than the rest of the surface. Further investigation of the dull area should reveal the tear.

Cleaning
Cleaning can be VERY difficult to detect. It is usually performed on the cover since the cover is primarily used to determine grade. There are dry cleaning and wet cleaning.

Dry Cleaning
Basically Dry Cleaning is using an eraser type material to remove things like dirt, pencil etc. One method to accomplish dry cleaning is to pick up a template at an art supply store. This template is a thin piece of aluminum with various shapes cut into it. Long thin rectangles, circles, etc Using the template as a guide a white eraser can be used to clean the white areas surrounded by color. If an eraser is used to erase an entire cover, ink will be removed and smeared (especially on the back cover with all of the text in B&W ads

Wet Cleaning
FEEL the surface of the book. Should it have a gloss cover? If so is it very dull AND does it feel slightly rough? If rough, angle it to a light and see if it appears matted. That could be age or it could be a wet wash. Examine the inside covers. If they seems unnaturally white with a slightly rough "tooth" to it, may have been subject to a water wash..

Spine Roll Removal
Spine roll removal entails pressing. Look for slightly off-color (often lighter) cover areas at the spine. People who know spine roll should have a feel for the general area. Also look for lines/wrinkles from the roll that are still visible but now flattened all along the spine. Basically what you are looking for is an area the length of the spine that displays a look of something that, well, has been rolled then flattened. Many possibly longish fine creases that are flat. The “off-color” (lighter) aspect deals with what you often see in a spine rolled book. The extra wear removing a bit of the cover inks.

Cover Only Trim
This is addressing amateur attempts at trim. Examine the color of the edge in question and compare it to that of the other edges. If it is much whiter, it MAY indicate a recent cut. On books with really white covers it can be impossible to tell. You want to examine the cut itself, determine the angle of the cut and if there are angle fluctuations. Here I am talking about the edge of the comic itself - so I am talking fluctuations over the edge. NOT the angle at which the entire cover was cut. That could just be a miscut.
The least accurate way of detecting cover trim is by comparison to other books. In comics, quality control can be shoddy and books could and did emerge with varying finished sizes.

Gloss and Re-Glossing
The glossiness of paper comes from a couple of things: the amount of "calendering" and the paper's clay (mainly kaolinite) contect. Calendering is a process that subjects the paper to successive passes through high pressure rollers). Combine that with a high clay content and you have a nice glossy surface.

Reglossing is an attempt to simulate the inherent glossiness of hard, calendered paper (see immediately above) with a spray or coating. It is an artificial coating laying on the surface as opposed to the real gloss which comes from the paper's initial treatment.

Various solutions from methyl cellulose sprayed on with an airbrush to cans of gloss spray have been used. These can usually be detected by the unnatural look/feel when compared ti a similar book that has been untouched. Also, some glossing solutions have yellowed over time.

Like I say, these are some simple basic things I have picked up over the years studying and practicing with restoration.
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Collector PovRow private msg quote post Address this user
And please continue adding your own experiences and techniques and questions to this thread.
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COLLECTOR Towmater private msg quote post Address this user
Thanks for posting that!
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Moderator The_Watcher private msg quote post Address this user
Excellent post, POV. Incredibly helpful
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Collector WalkinWillie private msg quote post Address this user
Great post - I know a lot of dealers that use a small black light to detect restoration - especially color touches.
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Collector Pre_Coder private msg quote post Address this user
Very informative post. Thanks POV!

@WalkinWillie I've read/heard the same about using a black light, and also some use a low watt ultra-violet light as well as it might pick up something the black light missed, and visa-versa.
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Collector Iago19 private msg quote post Address this user
Great post. Good info.
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Collector D_Stu private msg quote post Address this user
Thanks for sharing POV!
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Collector thirdgreenham private msg quote post Address this user
Thanks for posting!

Any idea what kind of uv light the big boys use to detect color touch?

Andy
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President SteveBorock private msg quote post Address this user
Andy, we use our trained eyes. That said, we will use a black light or a magnifier to prove what we all ready think we know, just to be sure when needed.
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Collector PovRow private msg quote post Address this user
It has been years since I used a black light. One issue is that other substances fluoresce under black light. It can be unsettling to see how much can be on a book that is totally unrelated to restoration.

I am comfy with angling under white light and readers or a magnifier. As I get older my close eyesight gets worse. As Steve says, though, it is best to use UV simply to confirm what you already see. Otherwise you may end up chasing something that isn't resto at all.
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Collector hockeyboy13 private msg quote post Address this user
please mention that dry cleaning and pressing are not considered restoration.
however, it is good to be able to tell if these have been performed.
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Collector zosocane private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyboy13
please mention that dry cleaning and pressing are not considered restoration.
however, it is good to be able to tell if these have been performed.


So dry cleaning is not resto, but wet cleaning is resto? If I have a CBCS slab that has slight pro resto and the only resto is "Cover Cleaned," does that mean wet cleaning?
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Moderator The_Watcher private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by zosocane
Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyboy13
please mention that dry cleaning and pressing are not considered restoration.
however, it is good to be able to tell if these have been performed.


So dry cleaning is not resto, but wet cleaning is resto? If I have a CBCS slab that has slight pro resto and the only resto is "Cover Cleaned," does that mean wet cleaning?


Yes. That means that the cover was removed and placed in an aqueous solution to remove dirt
Post 14 IP   flag post
Collector zosocane private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Watcher
Quote:
Originally Posted by zosocane
Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyboy13
please mention that dry cleaning and pressing are not considered restoration.
however, it is good to be able to tell if these have been performed.


So dry cleaning is not resto, but wet cleaning is resto? If I have a CBCS slab that has slight pro resto and the only resto is "Cover Cleaned," does that mean wet cleaning?


Yes. That means that the cover was removed and placed in an aqueous solution to remove dirt


Thanks. Does this type of resto (i.e., wet cleaning) considered among the least or lesser "intrusive" types of resto, meaning that the market does not punish the value of the book as much as, say, trimming or color touch?
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Moderator The_Watcher private msg quote post Address this user
@zosocane Trimming isn't considered restoration (even though it gets a restored label), it's considered destruction. You're removing material to make a book look nicer. This is a process that can't be reversed. Restored books with trimmed notations tend to bring less than their untrimmed counterparts

Yes, a cover cleaning is about the least intrusive form of resto one can have. I would definitely pay more for a restored comic with just a cleaned cover than one with tears seals or color touch. I'm sure there are others that would agree with me
Post 16 IP   flag post
Collector PovRow private msg quote post Address this user
I am using "Restoration" here in a broad sense: i.e. a process or technique designed to return the book closer to, or mke it appear closer to, its original condition. I hope that is apparent.

There has yet to be an industry-wide standard as to what exactly comprises restoration. CBCS and CGC have their definitions. But those are just that: their definitions. To say something is or is not restoration is an on-going issue. Back in the day a restorer might advertise (and this is a real one) "re-glossing and trimming for that Mint look!"

Now we have Conservation (as opposed to Restoration) peeking in as well, under which which tear seals could fall.

So please take this with the intent it was made - to offer a simple guide to the more basic and common treatments.
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