Kurt Roberg (*1924) made a bequest to the Jewish Museum Berlin this year, which comprised among other things a stamp-album—one of the very few items in Roberg’s possession when he fled Berlin for Lisbon then New York in May 1941.
Jewish emigrés were forbidden to take their belongings with them out of Germany so Roberg came to see the album as a symbol of his personal triumph over the National Socialist dictatorship.
It is a simple folder containing loose sheets to which stamps are attached by paper hinges, between index sheets classifying various countries in alphabetical order.
My task, once the stamp album had been handed over to the Jewish Museum Berlin and inventoried by a curator, was to establish which measures would be necessary to guarantee its preservation. In order to safeguard the album’s history and hence its specific characteristics, I opted for cautious, unobtrusive conservation. My plan was only to stabilize the existing substance, not to try to repair or remove every last trace of its defects. I thus ruled out any measures that would have made the object look “as good as new.”
Examination of the album’s condition revealed that, in addition to visible tiny tears in several of the dog-eared sheets, the stamps themselves would have to be secured. The adhesive on the paper hinges had dried out over the years and it seemed likely the stamps would detach and be lost during future use of the album.
The adhesiveness of each hinge was accordingly checked and, if necessary, refixed; and fine Japanese paper was used to mend the tears.
Regarding the folder itself, alone the rear cover had survived and it too was slightly torn and also buckled. We decided solely to secure its present state in order to preserve also these traces of the object’s history.
The next question, once conservation was complete, was how to store the album and maintain public access to it yet simultaneously minimize the risk of deterioration or damage. We decided for a custom-made, long-time stable, corrugated cardboard archive box. The album can therefore now be safely transported and is protected from dust, light and mechanical damage.
Additional inner protection was designed for the album itself, so as to ensure that the index tabs and the binder’s particularly fragile cardboard cover would be adequately protected from mechanical damage, during storage, transport and use. The inner protection was expressly not affixed to the binder so it can be easily removed when the album goes on display.
Until that day comes, however, Kurt Roberg’s well-traveled stamp collection will remain optimally stored in aclimate controlled depot, where the air temperature is 18°C and the relative humidity 50%.
Kirsten Meyer, Paper Conservator
Kirsten Meyer (2014), The World in Miniature. On Conserving and Storing a Stamp Album.
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Behind the Scenes: Anecdotes and Exciting Finds while Working with our Collections (10)
Anecdotes and Exciting Finds while Working with our Collections
Employees of our archive and our collections provide insight into their work and share stories and insights.
Berlin in Times of Cholera
Doreen Tesche and Jörg Waßmer discover some parallels to the current corona pandemic in Louis Röhmann’s diary entries about cholera in Berlin in 1837.
That can’t be! Can it?
Jörg Waßmer about coincidences in the archive
“Since that day, Iʼve felt like a newborn”
A striking document about the 1945 Day of Liberation
“The best solution would be that the baby is a girl”
Jörg Waßmer prepared the inventory of Fritz Wachsner’s estate and got some insights into an internal Jewish debate about circumcision.
Conservation of Letters and Seals
Stephan Lohrengel reports about his work as paper conservator in the Jewish Museum Berlin.
The World in Miniature
Kirsten Meyer on conserving and storing a stamp album
Farewell Letter, Ink on Paper
Exhibition curator Maren Krüger and paper conservator Stephan Lohrengel about a touching historical document and why we could only exhibit it so shortly
Theresia Ziehe, curator for photography, on the history of the Herbert Sonnenfeld collection
All for Love
Jörg Waßmer searches for sexual diversity in the collection of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Salvaged from the Trash
Anna Rosemann on the photo albums of the artist Olga Irén Fröhlich