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Paper, Leather and Parchment Lab

Many exceptional gems pass through this lab: beautifully illustrated manuscripts, ink drawings, and historical documents. Our researchers work carefully to identify the materials and techniques used.

Non-invasive techniques

We study the substrate (paper, leather or parchment) and the paints and inks used. When applied to manuscripts on parchment, these inks give us an insight into how and where a manuscript was created, how the artists worked and sometimes even who they were! To avoid damaging the unique and fragile manuscripts, we only use non-invasive analysis techniques.

What we can do for you:

  • analysis and characterisation of different types of wallpaper, such as lincrusta, anaglypta and kinkarakawakami (Japanese leather paper). Here we can also rely on the knowledge of the Decoration of Monuments Unit
  • identification of the fibre composition of paper pulp and the fillers in paper
  • study of the pictorial layers and their composition in (gold) leather (mineral pigments, organic dyes, metallic foils, organic binders and varnishes, etc.)
  • qualitative and quantitative analysis of extractable fats in leather
  • identification of leather and parchment through calibrated amino acid analysis.

What kind of objects are used in the lab?

Ink drawings, printed images, pastels, historical documents, old playing cards, wallpaper, manuscripts, leather clothing, mitres, leather book bindings, gold leather wall coverings, etc.

They come from public archives, museums and private collections.

A selection of our projects