Considerations about foxing stains in three paper collections ranging from the 16th to the 20th century


  • Francisca Figueira Laboratório José de Figueiredo, Direção Geral do Património Cultural, Lisboa, Portugal
  • Marta Matos Laboratório José de Figueiredo, Direção Geral do Património Cultural, Lisboa, Portugal; Polytechnic Institute of Tomar (IPT), Tomar, Portugal
  • Aida Nunes Museu de Lisboa, Núcleo de Conservação e Restauro, Lisboa, Portugal
  • Marina Afonso SalvArte, Atelier de Conservação e Restauro, Lisboa, Portugal
  • Ana Clara Rocha SalvArte, Atelier de Conservação e Restauro, Lisboa, Portugal
  • Joana Campelo Laboratório José de Figueiredo, Direção Geral do Património Cultural, Lisboa, Portugal
  • Teresa Ferreira HERCULES Laboratory, University of Évora, Évora, Portugal; Chemistry Department at the Science and Technology School, University of Évora, Évora, Portugal



Foxing stains, Papermaking, Conservation surveys, MNAA museum, MBP museum, BNP library


Three surveys on the occurrence of foxing stains were carried out on papers dating from 1560 to 1975 in three Portuguese collections. Foxed papers were found to be more intensely and intrusively stained in certain time periods of each collection. Based on historical data and the professional paper conservation expertise, the authors linked the increased occurrence of foxing stains in certain time periods to the new papermaking processes and materials, which began to be introduced in the late 18th century, and in particular to a synergistic effect between three factors: the use of deficient gelatine sizing which began to present a poorer quality and homogeneity, the presence of iron-containing impurities throughout the paper leaf and a distinct absorbency of moisture. Observing batches of morphologically similar papers by using photographic imaging with different types of light sources and incidences, the authors verified that similar papers present similar foxing stains.


Received: 2019-7-20
Revised: 2019-11-19
Accepted: 2019-11-27
Online: 2020-5-4
Publication: 2020-11-27


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How to Cite

Figueira, F., Matos, M., Nunes, A., Afonso, M., Rocha, A. C., Campelo, J., & Ferreira, T. (2020). Considerations about foxing stains in three paper collections ranging from the 16th to the 20th century. Conservar Património, 35, 45–57.




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