Preserving a Fire-damaged Bible Page

Dear Donia,
How do I preserve a Bible page that has been damaged by fire?

burned bible


Q. Dear Donia,

Our home was one of many homes lost in the California wildfires. I have a page from the Bible that survived my house fire. It is burned around the edges and is one of the few things we found going through the ashes. I would like to find a way to preserve and display it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Jerri

A. Dear Jerri,

I am so sorry to hear that you lost your home to the wildfires in California.

Paper that has gone through a fire will be more brittle and fragile. Full conservation treatment would be the best way to preserve the page but you can use framing as an alternative method. You will want to find a framer who knows how to do conservation framing so they know the techniques and materials to use. Be sure to talk to them about using, at minimum, museum rag board for the matboard. Even better would be to use Alpharag Artcare matboard which contains a chemical compound that not only protects the paper but will also absorb the odor of the smoke. You will want a window mat that does not cover any of the paper to prevent any flaking. To do this, be sure to ask the framer to mount the page with Japanese tissue "v" hinges using wheat starch paste. The hinges should be attached to parts of the page that have not been affected by the flames. Finally, you will want to use UV blocking glass to protect the piece from excess light.

To help you understand some of these terms, see this leaflet from the Northeast Document Conservation Center. i hope this helps!