The discovery of a highly toxic, arsenic-based green pigment in the cover of a Victorian-era, cloth-covered book at Winterthur Library launched The Poison Book Project. This ongoing project investigates potentially toxic colorants used in the manufacture of 19th-century bookbinding materials, crowd-sources an inventory of confirmed arsenic green 19th-century books, and explores safer handling and storage methods. How are these books identified? Why were they made? How deadly are they, really? Lead conservator Melissa Tedone will share the project’s research into heavy metals and the historical context behind these beautiful but potentially dangerous volumes.
In-person attendees will receive an emerald green color swatch bookmark to aid in the visual identification of potentially arsenical books.
--Melissa Tedone is Book & Library Conservator at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. She holds a PhD in Slavic literary history from Yale University, and an MSIS with a Certificate of Advanced Study in the Conservation of Library and Archival Materials from UT Austin.