Friday, May 18, 2012


Today at work in Special Collections I encountered Marbling: a history and a bibliography by Phoebe Jane Easton which had been a victim of a particularly vicious act of book on book violence. It had the extreme misfortune of being shelved next to a deteriorating leather book. As you can see, neither were wrapped in mylar and Marbling sustained extensive red rot staining on its cover.

Fortunately for Easton's book, the Acquisitions Department had just cleaned out a storage area and brought me a cart full of supplies to go through and keep if I wanted. In those supplies were two packages of Groom/Stick.

My first impression of Groom/Stick was that it must be some form of book torture that in one long gone day was thought to work. I did some research and found that instead it was supposed to be a revolutionary new cleaning material:

GROOM/STICK is a novel form of natural rubber with specific properties combining to create a surface dry-cleaner of high efficiency. The rubber's natural structure has been modified to make it permanently soft, kneadable and strongly tacky. Moisture, solvents and chemical additives have been excluded.

As a non-abrasive, non-staining cleaner of paper and other library materials, Groom/stick gently but positively picks up a wide range of foreign matter. Graphite, carbon, charcoal, chalk, crayon, dry powder colours, mould spores, dust, dirt and grease are cleanly lifted off the surface and held in a 'molecular trap' from which there is no escape!

The process is fast and smear-free. It is demonstrated by lightly rolling a Groom/stick 'cigar' across a freshly-printed newspaper. Excess print ink is removed instantly - without blurring the print or soiling adjacent clean areas. Ordinary solid or granular rubber/resin erasers abrade, smudge, crumble or produce clinging debris. Groom/stick sacrifices nothing of itself, leaves no dirty fragments to brush away (or mould spores to regenerate in concealed areas) and is always ready and clean to use.

 I decided to give it a shot and the results were earily exactly what the promotional material said they would be. While I didn't find rolling the material into a cigar a very easy endeavor (my lump looks more like a creepy alien-esque cacoon), I did find that the surface dirt it grabbed would never escape from it's plasticky grave. Here it is covered in red rot powder and none of it is transfering to my hands or any other part of the book. In fact, it was cleaning me. I could see it, while still covered in powder, taking all the oil that I didn't know I had off my fingertips.

Groom/Stick is my miracle item of the week. Enjoy these before and after photos:

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