The use of parchment is as old as western civilization. It is first mentioned by Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC) in his book 'Terpsichore'. During King Eumenes II' reign (197–159 BC) of Pergamon prepared animal skin was perfected as an alternative a writing material to papyrus. The 'chartam pergamenam', that we know now as parchment, became the material of choice for important manuscripts and documents.
Parchment (or vellum) is a strong and resilient material that, when kept in stable climate conditions, will stand the time. Though it is flat and looks like paper, it is made of animal skin and has never lost its beastly character and requires a different approach to conservation than paper does.
Our conservation treatments include:
humidification, relaxation reshaping of warped and cockled parchment documents
tear in infill repairs of lacunae with suitable skin materials and refined animal glues
paper and wax seal consolidations
special mounting and framing solutions of parchment deeds.
' It is cold today. Naturally winter.
' The lamp gives a bad light.
' It is time for us to begin to do some work.
' Well this vellum is hairy.
' Well, I call this vellum thin.
' I feel quite dull today
' I don’t know what is wrong with me.
(Lindsay ‘Palaegraphia Latina, II, 24)
(A marginal jotting found in a 9th century copy of Cassiodorus from the monastry of Laon, where there was an Irish colony).