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----- Original Message -----
From: "Colin Schlachta" <[log in to unmask]>
> I am in the process of transferring audio from wax cylinder to audio CD,
and
> every now and then I come across series of cylinders in our collection
with
> a kind of growth on the surface.  It fills up the grooves and distorts the
> recordings.  Some of the cylinders are so badly infected that they cannot
be
> played at all.  It appears to be a like a kind of fungus, but I am not
sure.
> Has anyone come across this problem and come up with a non-destructive
> cleaning process?
>
As I understand it (and I will admit to a lack of expertise), this is
actually
a fungal growth, and it actually eats the wax substance that composes the
recording, thus making the damaged cylinder at best noisy and at worst
unplayable. Extreme manifestations of this can be seen on wax cylinders sold
at flea markets and similar sources whose original owners stored them in
warm, damp places, encouraging fungal growth. The fungus can be removed, but
the wax it has eaten cannot be restored (that I am aware of, anyway) so
that mold-damaged cylinders are basically unsalvageable.

It is still being debated whether shellac, also being an organic substance,
can be affected by a similar phenomenon.
Steven C. Barr