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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Traveling for the Holidays?

by Cecile Mear, Conservator of Works on Paper


Galt House Cincinnati , Emil Klauprecht , CAMConservation , works on paper , paper conservation

If you were traveling to Cincinnati in the early 19thth century, whether for business or to visit family and friends, where would you stop when you arrived? Without the convenience of the Internet, how would you know where to stay? You might look for printed advertisements posted around town. This ad for the Galt House, a hotel in the bustling city on the Ohio River, might catch your eye. Printed by German immigrant Emil Klauprecht, the lithograph announces the opening of the hotel on March 27, 1836.

The museum’s print is one of only two extant impressions of Galt House, believed to be the first lithograph printed west of the Alleghanies. (The other impression resides in the collection of the Cincinnati Historical Society Library.) Though the date on the print is 1836, the lithograph was most likely printed in 1837 or 1838 after Klauprecht opened his printing business.

At first glance it is obvious the print has had a rough life. It shows water stains, apparently from more than one instance of being wet. Two types of planar distortions—the tight cockling along the bottom edge and radiating buckling through the center—along with the edge stains along the bottom and right suggest the print was at one time attached to a strainer that caused the paper to expand unevenly when the print was damp. Scattered small foxing stains from tiny bits of metal in the paper are overshadowed by the water stains. The print probably spent much of the past 180 years in a frame; even so, a significant amount of grime had accumulated on the surface.

My task was to even out the paper tone so that the illustration of the hotel and the activities around it would be the focus of attention—not the array of water stains. Check back to see what it took to coax the print back to life.

Emil Klauprecht (American, 1815–1896), ­Galt House, 1837–1838, lithograph on paper, Gift of Virginius C. Hall