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Topic: Is this foxing?

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Subject: Is this foxing?
Date Posted: 2/8/2009 12:52 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2008
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I have a paperback from 1978 which has rusty brown spots on the outside edges only of the pages.

Picture 1

Picture 2

I was just hoping someone could confirm that this is foxing, and therefore able to be posted.  Thanks!

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 12:56 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
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I've always thought that "foxing" was the little pinprick size brown spots that show up on the interior pages.  I'm not sure about these.  Someone else more knowledgeable than me will probably have a good answer.

Ruth

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 1:31 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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I think what you have is just garden variety staining.  Foxing is the (variably sized) brown spotting caused by a mold or fungus that appers mostly on older high-acid content paper. I don't remember seeing anything regarding foxing in the posting rules.  It rarely occurs in paper that was manufactured after the late 19th-early 20th century.  To answer your question - it doesn't really occur in pb's from the 1970's.  See below for an example:

http://www.gracegalleries.com/images/Art_Conserv/Foxing.jpg

 

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 1:51 AM ET
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Hmm.  Fiddlesticks.

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 4:34 AM ET
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Personally, I wouldn't have a problem accepting that book, but I don't know that it really meets posting guidelines, though I suspect it might.  It looks more like just "age" than any liquid damage.

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 9:48 AM ET
Member Since: 11/23/2008
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I think it looks fine to me.  As long as the inside pages aren't also discolored.  Is it smelly?  If not I would say go ahead and post it.

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 11:30 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
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Katie - Yes, it is foxing, and it occurs not just on text pages, but at the outer edges of a book as well.  Here are some images:

To the outer edge of a book: i2.photobucket.com/albums/y4/rubberducky102760/00Foxing.jpg

To a blank page: i2.photobucket.com/albums/y4/rubberducky102760/002978400959_31702191f2.jpg

Spotty reddish brown stains most people refer to when they say "foxing" is generally accepted to be caused by iron oxidation, but there are several theories as to other causes.  Some will say acid content is a contributor, although high acid content is usually the accepted reason for "tanning", or an overall darkening of pages to varying shades of tan or brown over time.  I have read some theories that say foxing may also be caused by fungus of one type or another reacting to various minerals in the pulp from which the paper is made.  I think it's safe to say that the exact causes of foxing are not precisely understood and agreed upon, but there does seem to be a general agreement that humidity is a factor.  What can be said with a reasonable degree of certainty, is that if you have a (generally older) book, and it has rusty looking spots on the pages, and it appears to have some uniformity, in the sense that it doesn't look like somebody splashed spaghetti sauce on one page or at the end of a book, it's most likely foxing.  More confused than you were before?  Get in line:P

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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Kim-- interesting.  Are you a librarian?  I'm sending out an email right now to my BFF who is a paper conservator at the Smithsonian  as I am geeky enough to be curious.  I think we need to see the pages of Katie's book (rather then just the edges) to see what's going on.

 

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
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No, Carolyn, not a librarian, book restoration professional, or scientific geek type:P  Just a book nut, but more specifically, a book nut who collects vintage paperbacks, and has done a LOT of research on preservation, restoration, and repair of vintage paperback books.  Unfortunately, a lot of the books I collect are sometimes decades out of print, and most of the available copies are in the same condition as the book Katie posted a picture of above.  I collect a lot of old series and other romances printed between the 1970's-1980's and foxing is pretty common, so I see it a lot.  As a rule, it doesn't affect the collectibility of a book in the sense that if a book is very rare, someone will want even the most dilapidated copy out there, but condition of a rare, out of print book pretty much always affects resale value.  In the case of Katie's book, what is most telling is the fact that she has shown two sides of the outer edge, and both show the same uniformity of discolorated spots throughout.  I would presume that the third side of the book not shown has these spots as well.  Splashed stains from sauces or liquids, which could appear in a roughly similar pattern, are unlikely to occur on more than one side of a book's outer edge.  Likewise, if they appear throughout a book, it's unlikely that someone splattered coffee, tea, blood or spaghetti sauce throughout a book.  Not accidentally anyway:P

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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I collect, too! Early Nancy Drew, anything Edward Gorey, some art books and I'm sort of a fiend about book condition. I have a feeling our conversation is about to get deeply boring to anyone who does not. :)  To me, the above paperback looks more like ordinary shelfwear rather then foxing.  It's hard to tell, though.  Now I'm very curious to see the actual pages.  If the pages are clean, I would guess it is postable.  Other then the marks, it does not look like the pages are particularly discolored.  Hm.  It could be anything.  I have an email out to my friend and will post when she responds.

Do you collect the Dark Shadows paperbacks by any chance?  I may post a couple soon.

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
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The ones from the old TV series?  No, but I never missed an episode when it was on TV.  My sister and I were positively rabid about that show - and totally in love with Quentin Collins, of course:P  Please do post your friend's response.  I'd love to hear what someone who does document preservation for the Smithsonian has to say.  I don't doubt that it would put quite a few people to sleep, but I find it fascinating; I would just kill to work in book preservation.  Boring as that must sound to most people:P  I don't think I've ever seen a book with pristine pages that had foxing on the outer edge, btw, but Katie's book looks 1970's "old", and I've seen tanning discoloration to the pages, with foxing just to the very edges of the page, or inside covers, and sometimes just on the outer edge.  I will have to look and see if I have any that are like that specifically, and if I do, I'll take some pics and post them.  Tanning & foxing, IMO, are a bit of a grey area here.  I mean technically, foxing is staining.  It just isn't the usual type of staining from foreign materials like food & liquids.

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 2:48 PM ET
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I mean technically, foxing is staining.  It just isn't the usual type of staining from foreign materials like food & liquids.

Exactly.  That's why I'm not sure where it falls in PBS's guidelines.  It's like yellowing, which is also staining via chemical reaction as opposed to ketchup.  I just sent off a book from 1913 with some discoloration on two or three pages, but what it was caused by is anyone's guess. It could be some sort of foxing, or it could be someone with buttery fingers in 1917.  There's just no way to tell at this point.   I will definitely post my friend's reply.  We were roommates when she was getting ready to apply to grad school and it involved taking lots of chemistry, which - I love books - but, no thank you. ;)

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 3:02 PM ET
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You know, with moisture & humidity being a contributing factor, it could be that the book was splashed or somehow beaded with moisture back in good old 1986 - like from being left outside in a plastic bag or something - and there was no obvious damage at the time, but it caused that pattern to develop over time to the outer edge and nowhere else.  I often think that there's so many varying opinions on what can cause foxing because you can't trace everything that's happened to an old book throughout its lifetime, unless maybe you're the only person who ever owned it:P  I generally agree with iron oxidation because a lot of the books I have had with foxing actually had an iron smell to them.  Not all of them, but many of them, on a sniff test, had a definite odor that reminded me of rusty metal.  And vegetable oil, of all things:P  Oh, and you mentioned Nancy Drew books earlier - I used to have a complete set of Nancy Drew books in hardcover when I was a teenager, and I gave them away ages ago.  Kinda wish I still had them.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 1:18 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2008
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Here are a few more pictures, of the inside of the pages, and also showing how darkly discolored the insides of the cover are.

Pages 1

Pages 2

Front cover

Back cover

The spots don't seem to be anywhere but on the very surface of the edges of the pages, and yeah they're on all three sides, but fainter at the top edge so I didn't take a picture of that.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 7:01 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
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Seems pretty typical of the way high acid paper darkens and ages with time, simply from normal room humidity and oxygen content.

At least, that's how I view it.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 8:09 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
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Well, that's tanning on the inside covers, and the pages look lightly tanned as well, which you would expect to see with an older book that has moderate foxing.  They don't always have both, but I've seen plenty that look very similar to what you have there.  It also looks from the second picture like you have a bit of moisture rippling near the top of the pages.  That may be unrelated to any of these other conditions though; it's hard to say and I don't see any other moisture damage.  My unprofessional guess is that the tanning & foxing are probably caused by the same issue with the paper, but since even expert opinions vary on what exactly can cause foxing I'm not sure what it is.  It could be a combination of iron oxidation and acid content, but it seems pretty obvious that it's a chemical reaction and not stains from foreign materials introduced to the paper.  Here's a link that you might find helpful:  www.mywingsbooks.com/coll-terms/fxt_.shtml
As to postability?  I wouldn't post it, but that's me.  I can't say that it's definitely not postable, but there's a strong likelihood that a receiver will mark it RWAP, and IMO, it would be more hassle than it was worth to sort it out.  But that's just my opinion.  You can always message someone from the PBS team and ask them what to do.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 10:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2007
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wow. If that's what people think is unpostable for books that are 30-40 years old... I better throw out most of my older sci fi books. I've got newer paperbacks that are just as dark and nearly all used books I've ever bought (or swapped for) have some kind of marks on the edges.

I didn't see anything at all that looked like liquid damage or rippled paper.  I saw some glue marks in the seam of the covers, but that's also normal for a pb like this.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 10:48 AM ET
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In the first paragraph of page 29, a little less than half the way down, there is a definite ripple to those pages, and a slight indentation at the outer edge.  It looks like mosture damage to me, and yes, I am wearing my glasses:P  I wouldn't mark it RWAP myself, but somebody else very well might.  People mark better looking books than that RWAP pretty much daily:P

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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I still don't see any of what I would call foxing, just the typical yellowing and discoloration one sees in older paperbacks.  Everything else (including the rippling - to my eyes it looks more like denting) looks to me like shelfwear.  Again, in my unprfessional opinion:)  No word from the pro, yet.  I would have no problem receiving this book, but would probably be too worried to post.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 11:43 AM ET
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The rippling could be from bending or something else, but the reason I say it looks like moisture rippling is because there isn't just a bend or crease and the indentation to the outer edge, there's a "rippled" pattern there; literally a series of small waves, and that's most often caused by moisture.  Granted, it's a very small series of waves, but it's not just a bend or indentation.  At least, it doesn't appear so to me.  On the foxing, the thing about that is that any naturally occurring pattern of spotty reddish brown patches on a document or book is commonly called foxing.  They might, in a restoration lab somewhere (maybe at the Smithsonian:P), say those spots are caused by iron oxidation or acid content, or a fungus, or a chemical reaction due to one or all of the above, but a collector still looks at redish brown spots on a book and says "foxing":P  You have to have something to call it other than some weird looking red/brown stains, especially if you deal in collectibles and need to describe condition, or collect and need to know it.  On Katie's book, I would describe it to someone as being light to moderate, and would expect a book described to me in those terms to look much the same.  If however, someone described a book to me as having mold or fungus or just "mystery" stains... well, I'm sure you can imagine the concerns I'd have there.  And back again to postability issues - I completely agree with Carolyn.  Considering the age of the book, if I wanted a copy, I'd have no problem with receiving it.  Posting it however, would be a little dicey to me.  It might be perfectly acceptable to one person and someone else would have a cow, so I don't think I'd take a chance.  Again, it's what I consider a grey area book, and if you don't want to chance getting an RWAP on a book you send out, then don't post it.  If that's not a concern, then post away.

*Edited (twice:P) to clarify...



Last Edited on: 2/9/09 11:46 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/9/2009 12:04 PM ET
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Ah.  My friend from the Smiithsonian speaks:

But its hard to say about the paperback, it may have been printed on good (cotton, or bleached wood) paper, but also the papermaking techologies and machines were a lot tighter and cleaner (from an engineering/metal pipes and fittings tolerance perspective) than those of the 18/19th c., so less likely to grind metal on metal and contribute tiny bits of catalyst metals), and the drying time of the paper is completely mechanized in the papermaking and printing, so less dwell time for fungal colonization.  Foxing in the case of the paperback would more likely come from general use allowing infiltration of bodies present in the air, and humid storage, allowing the bodies to live and thrive as opposed to dormancy. 

Garden variety staining and shelf wear is more noticable at edges. Wooden/formaldehyde laminate shelving contributes to shelf "burn", but all oxidation is more evident at the edges of the books than the interior.

Kim - I'm going to PM you a long message she just sent me re: foxing in general as I'm sure you'll find it to be interesting!  So nice to find someone on the boards with the same geeky book interests (I mean that in the nicest way ;)). 

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 12:44 PM ET
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Lol!  Thank you so much, Carolyn, for posting that.  The funny (or sad, depending on how you look at it) thing is, it makes a great deal of sense to me:P  I always knew I was weird to find such things interesting, and it's great to know I'm in good company:)

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 1:21 PM ET
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No problem!  Unfortunately, poor Katie is still stuck trying to figure out whether to post her book.  Maybe she can refer anyone who marks it RWAP to this discussion and the person will become so confused they will just throw up their hands and give her the credit.

I hadn't thought about the acid content of shelving.  That could be what has caused the marks to the outside of the book.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 1:37 PM ET
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I know, I was thinking the same thing.  We spend all of this time discussing if something actually is foxing, and what exactly foxing is, and she still has no idea whether her book is postable or not:P  And I wish I could help more with that, truly.  I do try to be more helpful than confusing... as a rule.  But I probably would have done better had I been a little less interested in the topic:P  I've looked before, but not recently, but do the help docs even mention foxing at all?  I don't think they do.  And I think the root of an misunderstanding or disagreement on postability of books like that probably comes from the fact that it's a naturally occurring thing.  It's not like somebody's kid splashed hot chocolate on their book (I say that because this has happened to me) or they did anything to cause it.  It just happened because of these factors that occur when the paper is being produced, and other naturally occurring factors (for your average book) like the bookstore shelving, exposure to humidity, etc. may have contributed to it.  The only thing I would say to that is that regardless of what causes it, you can't just overlook the fact that foxing is staining.  Not everyone is going to know what it is or what caused it, and while some will know & accept that it's often inevitable in old books and find it acceptable, someone else won't and they will likely have a problem with it.  What do you say when they do?  "Well, it's not really a stain, it's just foxing."?  Not me:P

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 2:17 PM ET
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Wooden/formaldehyde laminate shelving contributes to shelf "burn".

This is the part I found most interesting and educational for me!  I've recently been doing a lot of research on "green" living and trying to get away from formaldehyde impregnated products in the home.  I would ultimately love to be able to afford to have an almost totally 'green' living environment and home.  Doubt that will happen since most of my lifetime is spent.  But it's nice to dream.  In the mean time I will have to look into different shelving options, I guess!

Ruth

PS - the type of book was never mentioned.  If it is a highly desired book by a collector they might find the condition of the book acceptable.  Maybe a note in the Book Bazaar or genre forum (note in signature line only) would help move the book for a credit since there seems to be no clear rule on this one.

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