I’ve written about the conservation of archival materials related to printmaking history in the past for this blog and I am excited to share a grouping of printing plates from the Bank of North America collection.
This image shows the copper printing plate, wrong-reading at top, and below, flipped horizontally to show how it would appear printed.
In addition to the nearly 700 volumes in the collection, there are boxes of archival materials. Among these materials, were two boxes labeled “Engraved Plates.”
Nineteen printing plates of various sizes and condition were stacked upright in old non-archival document boxes with removable lid at top. Many, but not all, of the plates were wrapped in paper and marked with identifying information.
There are three categories of plates in these boxes– portraits of Presidents of the Bank of North America, bank letterhead plates, and Bank Notes and Currency Plates.
There are eight portrait plates of the Presidents from the inception of the bank in 1791 (Robert Morris) through 1860. Prints from these plates can be found throughout the extra-illustrated version of the History of the Bank of North America (here is a sneak peak of these exquisite volumes – expect a full blog post in the coming months).
The treatment plan for these plates was to create customized housing for each plate and accompanying wrapper. Hinged sink mat inset trays were constructed of acid-free corrugated board with lifts for the plates. These boxes minimize handling of the archival materials and provide opportunity to better organize the plates.
Many, many more images of these plates are on our Flickr page - including stamps on the backside of the plates, extreme close-ups of engraved lines and more!