The Tree of Health and Happiness; The Tree of Misery and Death

May 28, 2015

The Temperance Movement was a popular social movement during the nineteenth century which criticised excessive alcohol consumption and advocated abstinence. The early movement had arisen from the problems caused by the popularity of cheap spirits and gin houses, but during the 1800s when safer alternatives to beer became cheaper and more readily available emphasis turned to teetotalism and tea and cocoa rooms began to appear in our towns.

We have two wonderful examples of temperance posters created in Rhosymedre, near Ruabon around 1880, which were deposited during the 1980s (DD/DM/608). The posters are hand coloured and include a pro-temperance illustration of a tree entitled “The Tree of Health and Happiness” and anti-alcoholism illustration of a tree entitled “The Tree of Misery and Death”. They both depict a group of people standing beneath a tree, and making appropriate comments on the benefits of sobriety and the perils of inebriation respectively. The trunk and branches of each tree are also labelled with appropriate sentiments which make interesting and quite amusing reading for modern eyes.

Unfortunately the fragile condition of the posters meant that they were unfit for the public to view or handle. In the past they had been folded into eighths and these folds then opened into splits. The posters had been previously framed and resin staining had leached into them and they were heavily discoloured.

However the most serious problem was that during the last few decades the posters had been heavily repaired with sellotape or similar, and strips of this adhesive tape covered most of the rear surface of each. The tape had begun to oxidise, discolour and lose flexibility so it was no longer possible to unfold the posters and or flatten them.

The conservation work

The posters were in desperate need of conservation work and were sent to an external conservator for treatment. First the printing inks were tested for stability in acetone then the adhesive tape and as much as the adhesive as possible was removed with local then overall applications of acetone.

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Discolouration was reduced by pre-wetting the fragmented paper with an ethanol/water mix then washing in ordinary water. This was continued until no further discolouration came out. Tests were carried out with low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide solution on those areas still heavily discoloured but to little effect.

The posters were pieced back together on a light box using Japanese tissue and wheatstarch paste then each lined onto a sheet of Japanese mulberry paper with wheatstarch paste and stretched flat. Missing areas were filled with a rag paper applied with wheatstarch paste then these and any visible repairs were toned with watercolour.

These wonderful posters are now available to view at Denbighshire Archives in Ruthin.


Online Services- Project Update May 2015

May 8, 2015

During our last update, we provided you with an outline of our new Denbighshire Archives digital project. Some further details on the key tasks, timescales we are working to during 2015 and progress being made are listed below.

As you can see we have made great progress with our new virtual volunteer project which means we can achieve much more this year than we had planned for.

Key Tasks Target Completion Date Completion Rate
Recruitment of new virtual volunteers i.e. those that wish to work from home. See our previous post for details. June 2015 100%(ongoing recruitment)
Primary school catalogues imported into CALM (our cataloguing database) February 2016 64%
Collection level descriptions (brief histories) created for all primary schools collections. December 2015 16%
Catalogue – David Williams collection March 2015 100%
Catalogue – Richards collection (consisting of over 6000 items) Feb 2016 45%
Catalogue – Denbigh Infirmary collection June 2015 100%
Catalogue – Alan Fletcher papers June 2015 40%
Catalogue – Philip Lloyd – Rhyl photographs and films June 2015 0%
Catalogue – Kathleen Webb papers October 2015 0%
Launch new website, including on-line catalogue. November  2015 20%
Development of bid for cataloguing and digitising of North Wales Mental Health records December 2015 0%

Further updates will be published here on our blog and our facebook pages.


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