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Pure Preservation versus Preservation and utilization: what do y'all think?


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I find myself in a bit of a conundrum. I recently acquired a VMI Bomb yearbook from 1915. Pretty cool in and of itself but there are a couple contributing factors that I am unsure where to proceed. First, this thing was in a flood or something and was badly water damaged (as in I could not open more than five of the 300 plus pages in the book). It was all stuck together. I realized I was tearing it up trying to get it open so I ended up having to actually re-soak it to get it wet enough to get the pages apart with as little damage as possible. At this point I have separated the first 200 pages. You can see the results in the pictures. Pages are visible, mostly intact but damage to edges and spine. A 1915 VMI yearbook on ebay sold not long ago for about $60 and was in much better condition. This waterlogged copy would be worthless without an interesting mitigating circumstance. That circumstance is: almost all of the graduating class of 1915 cadets are signed. There are 59 signatures of 1915 cadets. Must are run of the mill WWI officers. A few I couldn't find anything about, and a few are almost famous. Perhaps the best know is Lt-Gen Edward M "Ned" Almond, wounded in WWI with the 12th Machine Gun of the 4th Division, WWII commander of the 92nd Infantry Division and infamous commander of the X Corp in the Korean War. It was Ned Almond who, because of his reckless aggression, put the marines in danger at Chosen Reservoir. There are other signatures as interesting. Now, I see I have several options. Option one, continue to separate the pages and leave it alone. It is after all an ugly, but historically significant artifact. Option two, because the binding is already shot and the significance is the signatures, not the yearbook, I can carefully remove the pages of each cadet and preserve them separate from the book ensuring no further damage. Option three, I take apart the book to showcase the more important/the lost (more than one KIA). There are often more than one photo of individuals. Ned Almond has at least three photos. I could take all of them out together and put together a good display. For example, one of the other individuals is an American ace credited with 8 enemy planes shot down in WWI. I think it would be cool to take his VMI page and other photos of him from the yearbook and put it together with squadron insignia, maybe collar insignia and rank and have it in a nice shadow box display. What do you all think? As it is it will never be pretty or overly displayable so I am leaning towards taking it apart but if you all think it would kill the value to do that I will probably just sell it all together. The collection of signatures with the story of each solder/sailor/marine is impressive. 










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I agree with you that the value is in the photos and signatures - there really isn't a lot of monetary value to the book in this condition.  You're doing a great thing by preserving it and the histories of the cadets pictured.


It's your book, but in your place I would probably lean toward keeping it as is, or at most removing the pages intact to preserve or display.  I personally wouldn't remove individual photos (but you could always have them professionally copied if you wanted to make a display).


I have several old Bombs - they're treasure troves of information but they take up so much room I don't really seek them out.  I can't pass them up when I find them at a good price though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would be thinking about getting all pages unstuck and flattened (relaxed) out as much as possible as is, and then seeing what might be possible for rebinding with new covers and spine. 

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