Contributions to the 5th AICCM Book, Paper and Photographic Materials Symposium. Editors: Prue McKay and Alana Treasure. Canberra, ACT: AICCM (Inc.), 2008.


Most conservators will be familiar with instructions to ‘wear white cotton gloves’ when handling artefacts. Anecdotally, however, there seems to be an aversion to the wearing of these gloves by conservators themselves, for various reasons including decreased fingertip sensitivity, lack of grip and their ability to pick up dirt. With the rapidly increasing interest in genealogy, many television programs are perpetuating this practice, showing celebrities handling old documents, always wearing white gloves. Do conservators know something about white cotton gloves that everyone else does not? This preliminary research project seeks to provide some justification either for or against the wearing of white cotton gloves when handling paper materials. A comparison of the effects of handling paper with bare hands, cotton gloves and nitrile gloves was investigated, measuring colour change, pH and skin deposits.


Download Some day my prints will come, or You can’t handle The Truth (unless you’re wearing gloves) [Adobe Acrobat PDF – 1.72 MB]

5th Book, Paper & Photograph Symposium, 2008
Paper author:
McKay, Prue