Hello Bev,

Thanks for the reply, but yes the CMC certainly has a full staff of curators
and conservators, and in fact I was speaking to the head conservator on this
issue already.  I have been working on the museum's wax cylinder collection
for nearly three years now, and am using an Archeophones to transfer the wax
cylinder content into various digital formats.

I was just curious to know what solutions those institutions & or collectors
have chosen regarding the long term storage of wax cylinders in their
original containers.  


Colin Schlachta
Audio-Visual Archives
Canadian Museum of Civilization
100 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4H2
Fax: (819) 776-7055
Tel: (819) 776-8466

-----Original Message-----
From: Bev Lambert [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2005 12:40 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Storage question of wax cylinders

Hi Colin: I would think your curatorial and conservation staff (doesnt CMC
have any conservators? shame on them if they dont!) would help you with this
question.  Usually history curators want to keep the original parts and
containers as far as possible.            
   If that dirt or those cotton fibres and "dust bunnies" are causing damage
and likely to hasten the deterioration of the records, then probably best to
leave it alone, unless the item is required for display.  One of those wee
vacuums should be able to pick up the debris and a soft brush remove it from
the grooves. If there are large quantiities of these things, there may be
manufacturers'  Care Instructions.  That will tell you what was
traditionally used to clean them. You dont want to use any kind of solvent
cleaner which could damage the wax.   New cases would only be necessary for
those without cases, or cases that are so badly damaged or dirty as to cause
abrasion or attract pests: insect, rodent, mould.  
  If the records are considered part of a musical instrument, then part of
their function is to make music (or spoken word?) and that cant be done if
they cant be played.  So is there a record playing machine for them to be
tested on? Even from an archival point of view, the information they
contain, cant be accessed unless there is a way to listen to them, in which
case they are artifacts soley. If that is so, its back  to the curatorial
question -how many hundreds do you need to show what the wax cylinder
recording looked like?  
  You are in the nation's capital where the national cultural conservation
research labs are:  contact Bob Barclay at CCI re musical instruments care,
or the Sound Recording Division at Library Archives Canada -the Gatineau
Preservation Centre, for storage requirements.  Hope this helps you.
Bev Lambert, Conservator
Provincial Archives of Newfoundland & Labrador
The Rooms, 9 Bonaventure Ave.
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

>>> [log in to unmask] 10/4/2005 12:29 PM >>>
The storage of flat discs and audio CD's has been the topic of late, but I'd
like to raise a question regarding the safe storage of wax cylinders.  My
question has to do with the original factory cylinder cases.  These cases
have a cotton lining inside to protect the surface of the cylinder.  This
may have been the solution in the late 19th century, but is it appropriate
for today?
For instance, I came across a case that had clear stone-like objects stuck
on the inner cotton walls.  It turned out to be drips of glue.  These drips
of glue probably came from the Edison factory since there are signs of even
more glue at the bottom of the case.  (Perhaps the factory worker sneezed
when applying the glue) :-)  With these hard particles being in this
container, the surface of this particular wax cylinder is now irreparably
damaged from taking the cylinder out & back in over the years.  Fortunately
I have only noticed this one example as I work my way through the 3300
cylinders in this museum's collection.

I have also found that the cotton lining particles can get in between the
grooves of a cylinder, and can blend in with dirt or the like.  This is a
larger problem regarding brown wax cylinders.

Can anyone tell me if it is best to store wax cylinders in their original
containers, or is it better to replace them?  I know that there is an
archival quality cardboard container that exists, but is this the best


Colin Schlachta
Audio-Visual Archives
Canadian Museum of Civilization
100 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4H2
Fax: (819) 776-7055
Tel: (819) 776-8466