Thursday 8 November 2012

The Tragedy of Grease-pencil

There are often 'collectible' books hidden among the stacks in used book stores, flea markets and estate sales. Sometimes, unfortunately, the seller has used grease-pencil to scrawl the price of the book across its cover, a horrible, disfiguring act. Not only reducing the overall condition of the book, the grease-pencil ends up defacing what can often be beautiful cover art. Although it can be argued that a true collectible book should never be restored under any circumstances, a mass market paperback of the type that is still very affordable would not be significantly degraded by a quick cleaning! But grease-pencil has always been a formidable adversary.
So when a stash of old Doc Savage novels, those published by Bantam throughout the sixties, seventies, and eighties was unearthed at an old going-out-of-business book store, the grease-pencil disfiguration had to be addressed! As an example, I present a copy of "Devil on the Moon", defaced with a scarring "495". To combat this, the Bibliophilia department used a paper towel moistened with a drop of olive oil and gently rubbed it onto the grease-pencil mark. Almost instantly the grease-pencil began to dissolve! Then, with a spare paper towel, the olive oil was dabbed off, taking most of the grease-pencil with it! Although not recommended for all types of paper, this technique worked wonders on the card stock cover of a paperback!

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