February 13, 2012

Good thing it wasn’t an ebook: One of four surviving Maga Cartas on display in the U.S.


Archivists preparing the Magna Carta for encasing.

The National Archive has unveiled the centerpiece of the David M. Rubentstien Exhibition and Visitor Center, its new exhibition gallery: a newly restored and encased 1297 Magna Carta, which is on loan to the American people by Mr. Rubenstein, according to a press release from the Archive. The document is 715 years old, and  is one of only four remaining 1297 originals.

The encasement was machined at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) out of two solid blocks of aluminum and is air tight and filled with humidified argon, an inert gas that unlike oxygen will not degrade the document.

For the ultimate conservationist-geek experience, watch the encasing process, below. But why, oh why, aren’t they wearing those little cotton gloves archivists favor? Someone tell me, please.


Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.