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Little All Right, the Japanese Marvel
May 23, 2010 6:42 AM   Subscribe

When Gladys and Harold Degree pulled the siding off their Colchester, VT home, they made a surprising discovery--five large, full-color posters from an 1883 visit by the Forepaugh Circus. Conservators at the Northeast Document Conservation Center made another surprising discovery underneath--posters for Forepaugh's rivals, the John B. Doris Circus. The newly conserved posters are on display at the Shelburne Museum through October 24th. (via)
posted by Horace Rumpole (26 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very interesting—thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on May 23, 2010


Cool. The only thing I ever found behind an old house wall was an empty bottle of Arnica oil.

I doubt any museum would have been interested.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:56 AM on May 23, 2010


Wow! That's an amazing story. And awesome posters! :)
posted by MaiaMadness at 7:01 AM on May 23, 2010


Those conservation photos are wonderful.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:02 AM on May 23, 2010


Huzzah! Thanks HR. Have only been through the Flickr set showing the peel-off process. Seeing windows in the background seems odd. Wouldn't a lab like this seek to shelter itself from any UV rays?
posted by hal9k at 7:22 AM on May 23, 2010


I don't know for sure, but the windows might very well have a UV coating. The lab at Harvard has big windows too, and it was just built a couple years ago, so I'm sure they would have taken that into account.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:32 AM on May 23, 2010


They should have left them on the boards.
posted by digsrus at 7:44 AM on May 23, 2010


John B Doris. He seems to have been arrested in 1896 for putting on a show in which a woman undresses on stage. It was "a public nuisance .. excites impure imagination and is calculated to corrupt public morals."

John B Doris had a freak museum in Harlem which included "a human pin cushion, a leopard man, a cannibal princess, and young Chauncy Morlan, a fat boy."
posted by stbalbach at 8:21 AM on May 23, 2010


impure imagination calculated to corrupt

IIC2C is NSFW
posted by stbalbach at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2010


Are there any better reporoductions of the poster images?

Most of the Flickr images are shot at Dutch angles and I want to get a better sense of the compositions.
posted by vhsiv at 8:44 AM on May 23, 2010


I didn't find much, vshiv, but I did find this set of photos showing the posters in situ, and one of them is featured in this video.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:58 AM on May 23, 2010


They should have left them on the boards.

The problem with leaving them on the boards is that you can't stabilize them that way. Acids and other chemicals from the wood leak into the paper and slowly degrade it. By removing the posters and placing them on archival-quality backing materials, you can stop the degradation process. It preserves the paper much better, and allows it to be handled (i.e. prepared for display) without breaking.

The posters themselves are amazing! What a wonderful find.
posted by gemmy at 9:06 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


^ Thanks, Rumpole.

Does anyone know if the museum is going to issue a publication for with this exhibition?
posted by vhsiv at 9:26 AM on May 23, 2010


I'm interested in how these were originally printed. Any info around about that?
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:55 AM on May 23, 2010


Nice story, thanks for posting! The conservation work is cool.
posted by carter at 10:16 AM on May 23, 2010


>They should have left them on the boards.
If they had, we wouldn't be able to see the first set of posters that had been pasted-over.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:19 AM on May 23, 2010


I'm interested in how these were originally printed. Any info around about that?

Here's a pretty thorough description of 19th century circus poster production.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:21 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very cool. Thanks. I'm in the middle of reading Water for Elephants. (which is fiction and about the circus in the 1930s.)
posted by Spumante at 11:12 AM on May 23, 2010


This is fantastic, thanks for the post!
posted by oulipian at 12:45 PM on May 23, 2010


They should have left them on the boards.

What gemmy said. I'm a book & document conservator, and the treatment the posters received was state-of-the-art (though actually fairly simple - just a lot of labor) and means that they'll be around for future generations.
posted by Shadan7 at 2:02 PM on May 23, 2010


Oh, and as to the windows at the NDCC: I'm sure they have UV filters - each layer of which knocks out about 98% of the UV. You have to have good light to do this kind of detail work - the trade-off on light exposure versus preserving the documents is well worth making. Long-term light exposure is where the real danger lies.
posted by Shadan7 at 2:06 PM on May 23, 2010


"a human pin cushion, a leopard man, a cannibal princess, and young Chauncy Morlan, a fat boy."

I'm now very interested in the story of Chauncy Morlan. I have a feeling that he was the most genuine of the above-named acts.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:35 PM on May 23, 2010


I'll be damned, here he is.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:38 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait wait wait ... electric self-lighting cigarettes?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:47 AM on May 24, 2010


When I was a kid, I wanted to be an FBI agent. I would think to myself, "Self, what job would give me the best chance of getting into the FBI?" My only answers were language skills and paper science. Still kinda wish I went into paper science. Too bad I was a lazy kid.
posted by spec80 at 12:04 PM on May 24, 2010


Good to see NEDCC mentioned here; they do great work, some great people.
posted by aldus_manutius at 1:42 PM on May 24, 2010


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