Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2001 Newsletter


"Near the Headwaters of the Nile," Map. General Charles George Gordon, c. 1873-1876.

Near the Headwaters of the Nile, Map. General Charles George Gordon, c. 1873-1876. Ransom Center Collections. Photo by Pete Smith.

Stamp Acts

Writers, artists, mapmakers, and others who leave behind their work sometimes use creative ways to piece together long documents. Survey maps of the Nile River explored by General Charles George Gordon in the late nineteenth century are held together using postal stamps.  One map from this collection, "Near the Headwaters of the Nile," will be on display in the exhibition "Gutenberg to Gone With the Wind: Treasures from the Ransom Center" this spring at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.  Look for the perforated stamp edges visible between some of the attached sheets.

Similarly, hundreds of sheets of Louis Aragon's draft manuscript pages were repaired using commonly available gummed paper borders from stores and government offices.  The manuscript pages had been buried for safekeeping during World War I and are now part of the Nancy Cunard collection at the Center.  A small watercolor by Texas artist, Tom Lea, was once hinged to a window mat with Lea's address labels.  The labels were made of printed, gummed paper, not unlike stamp construction or red-lined Denison™ labels common before the 1970s.  The labels are still attached to the back of the watercolor paper.

Stephanie Watkins
Head Paper Conservator, Department of Conservation

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