21 covers of the Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair magazines went through conservation in 2011 at the Graphics Conservation Workshop of The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. All of them were a part of the collection of Paul Etinger, who left his collection to the museum in his will.
The covers had images on each side of them. In the beginning of the XX century glossy magazines were printed on coated paper. This 'base' protected poor quality paper from mechanical damage, and allowed maintaining the brightness and saturation of printing inks. However, the paper sheets lost their durability with time forming numerous tears and creases with losses of protective coating. Fingerprints, dirt, and various stains also tarnished the look of the covers.
Before they starting the conservation process, the covers had to be tested for resistance to water treatment. The results showed that some of the paints as well as the adhesives in the paper coating were water soluble, so the decision was made to work with semi-dry methods. A hydroalcoholic solution was used for cleaning. This process had to be done with great care; stains had to be removed very quickly, before the water could penetrate the base layer and damage it.
Another challenge was to mend the creases and tears. Adhesives and Japanese paper traditionally used for such tasks did not give satisfactory results. The conservators found the way to mend the creases and tears with a mixture of mucilage and animal glue, and modern paper that allowed minimal coverage of the image from the back side.
After that the sheets were flattened with humidification method using Gore-tex materials, then placed under a press and dried between cardboard sheets for 14 days.
It took significant time to choose fitting colours for retouches and fillings at the areas of paint losses, creases and tears. As a result, dry gouache and acrylic paints were used. After the stands were made for the covers they were returned to the storage for safekeeping.