Plastics in Our Collections: Chapter 1

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Collecting latex from a tree
© User:Iamshibukc / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Plastics Age

History is filled with ages that are tied to the innovation of materials:  The Stone Age, The Bronze Age, and The Iron Age. We are currently in The Plastics Age. Plastics have changed so much in our daily lives. Plastics are around us all the time.  They are in every electrical thing in our houses, in the clothes that we wear, in our furniture and the packaging of our food.

This means that as caretakers of historic objects, museums have to consider how long plastic materials will last in our collections. We focus on what we have to do and learn in order to care for plastic objects. We also study plastics in order to store them in ways that better ensure their survival. This is a complicated thing.  Plastics are not simple materials, and what works for one may damage another.  Some plastics have been around longer than others, so we know more about them. We can see how they’ve aged. For other plastics, we can guess at how they will survive (or not) based on their behaviors and chemistries, while still others are a gigantic question mark.   Read more

Lloyd's Casualty Week

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The table of contents for the week of July 1st, 2011. Click for a much bigger view! From The Mariners’ Museum Library collection.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Library blog. Since the early 1700s, Lloyd’s List has been an excellent go-to source for information regarding shipping news. Lloyd’s List – or rather, lists – cover a large swath of information, from updates on worldwide commercial ports to a tabulation of worldwide ship losses. That last particular tabulation is called Lloyd’s Casualty Week, and here at The Mariners’ Museum Library we have a collection of that exact series that stretches from July of 1950 up to the end of 2011. Inside, an amalgamation of all the recent ship casualties is listed on a weekly basis, from natural disasters to fires and even piracy. That last category is especially relevant nowadays, when the global pirating of merchant and personal vessels is more widely recognized in the media.

 

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