Biography & Credentials

J. Franklin (Frank) Mowery
Expert Paper Conservator

After training for 6 years in Europe in book and paper conservation, Frank Mowery was awarded the title of Master Binder/Conservator. Mowery has been Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library since 1977. He is a Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation.  He is an international educator, having taught advanced conservation courses in Switzerland, China, Vietnam, Ukraine, Korea and in the United States.  He has been an innovator in conservation treatment techniques, having developed and perfected numerous techniques currently in use in paper conservation. Frank Mowery retired in 2013 as rare binding specialist at the Folger Library.

Frank Mowery is currently in private conservation practice focusing on the conservation of rare books, manuscripts and works of art on paper.  His clients include galleries, museums, libraries, dealers and private collectors in the United States and abroad.

Mowery’s conservation studio specializes in particularly difficult damaged objects, such as tape stains, paper losses, and vellum documents. The studio is equipped with all the most sophisticated pieces of equipment and utilizes the latest techniques in the treatment of the artifacts.

Generally the materials are turned-around in a short period of time often within a few weeks even shorter when “Rush Orders” are requested.  Photographic documentation and treatment reports routinely accompany conserved items.  Please feel free to contact Frank Mowery today.

  • Mowery helped in the development of a video digitizer for leaf-casting; developed in 1985 using a video camera linked to an Atari computer a method was created to digitize the image that was then programmed to calculate the area of loss and the amount of paper pulp needed to fill the loss. (see Mending Tears and Infilling)
  • Mowery inspired and supported the manufacturer of the platen vacuum suction device. A thin suction surface instrumental in the removal of tape and ink stains in paper.
  • Mowery was one of the first paper conservators to employ the use of a video stereo-microscope in the examination and treatment of works of art on paper.
  • Mowery worked with the Dupont corporation to develop uses of Gore-tex in conservation specifically for the humidification and relaxation of paper and vellum.
  • Mowery invented Gossamer Tissue (the worlds thinnest paper).
  • 13th-century manuscripts
  • Numerous copies of the Declaration of Independence including a Dunlap edition (the first printing, multiple Stone copies on vellum and paper proofs, and numerous Force copies
  • Specializes in early American documents and autographs, old master drawings and prints, and 20th-century graphic art
  • National Arts Academy, Vienna, Austria, 1975 -76
  • National Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg, German, 1971-75.
  • Internships at: Austrian War Archives, Vienna, Austria (1975); Lower Austrian Archives, Vienna, Austria (1975); National and University Library, Hamburg, Germany (1972-75); Library of Congress, Washington, DC (1972); Willy Pingle Bindery, Heidelberg, German (1971).
  • Professional School for Conservation, Centro del bel Libro, in Ascona, Switzerland,1988-2002
  • Coursestaught:  Medieval Chain and Long Stitch Bindings; Conservation of Parchment Documents and Bindings;  Frank’s Tips and Tricks;  Pressure Sensitive Tape and Stain Reduction;  Manufacture ofGossamer Tissue, an Ultra Thin Repair Paper;  Building Conservation Equipment (Suction table and Leaf-caster).
  • New York University, School of Conservation, guest lecturer teaching parchment conservation.  Spring 1990, 1992, 1994
  • Numerous workshops for the Guild of Book Workers, 1976-present, including: Manufacture of Book Clasps; Sewing Structures; Techniques and Logic of German Bookbinding; Mending Vellum Bindings;
  • German Style Leather Paring.
  • Trained conservators on the use of the leafcaster (small papermaking machine used to repair paper),  held courses in Europe, Korea, China, Vietnam, and Ukraine.
  • Bookbindings: An Exhibition in the Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Hagerstown, MD: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982).
  • Fine and Historic Bookbindings from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Co-authored with Frederick A. Bearman and Nati H. Krivatsy.  (Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1992).  A 271-page fully illustrated reference book on bookbinding.
  • “The Featured Bookbinding: Cortege by Pierre Lecuire,” Fine Print, January 1985 (10th Anniversary Issue).
  • “A Binders Training,” Guild of Book Workers Journal, 20, nos. 1-2 (1982), 21-27.
  • “Packing Books for Travel,” Guild of Book Workers Journal, 23, nos. 1-2(1984-1985), 58-68.
  • “The Logic and Techniques of German Bookbinding,” Guild of Book Workers Journal, 29, no. 1 (1991), 38-55.
  • “Clasps, Schliessen, Clausuren: A Guide to the Manufacture and the Literature of Clasps,” Guild of Book Workers Journal, 29, no. 2 (1991), 1-58.
  • “Parchment: Its Manufacture, History, Treatment, and Conservation,” Guild of Book Workers Journal, 32, no. 2(1994),13-73.
  • “The Conservation of a Thirteenth Century Armenian Manuscript,” in The Book and Paper Group Annual, comp. Robert Espinosa (The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 1991), 130-38.  Originally presented at the 19th Annual Meeting of The American Institute for Conservation, June 3-8, 1991
  • “The Conservation of the Omenhauser Civil War Sketchbook,” in The Book and Paper Group Annual, comp. Robert Espinosa (The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Washington, DC, 1991), 139-48. Originally presented at the 19th Annual Meeting of The American Institute for Conservation, June 3-8, 1991
  • “Calculating the Exact Area of Loss and the Amount of Pulp Necessary to FillVoids for Leafcasting Operations Using a Video Digitizer System Developed for the Folger Shakespeare Library,” co-authored with Charles Mazel, in The Book and Paper Group Annual, comp. Robert Espinosa (The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Washington, DC, 1986), Originally presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of The American Institute for Conservation, 1986.
  • The Galileo Forgeries;
  • A Guide to Describing Bookbindings and Design Elements;
  • Edwin Gwynn, a 17th century book collector
  • “Method Developed forMending a 1608 Illuminated Manuscript using a Gossamer Japanese Tissue Manufactured on a Leafcaster,” presented at the 13th Annual Meeting of The American Institute for Conservation, 1985.
  • “Conservation Decisions at the Folger Shakespeare Library,” presented at the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works on Paper Symposium, Ottawa, Canada 1988.
  • “Leafcasting: Filling in the Holes. The Current Status of Leafcasting Techniques,” presented at theConservation in Archives Symposium, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Canada 1988.
  • “Writing Surfaces and Implements,” presented at the Writing Technologies, from Classical Antiquity to Early Modern Europe conference at the University of Pennsylvania, March 28-29, 2003.
  • “Conservation and Preservation of the Bach Manuscripts, an Overview of Paper Splitting as Viewed from the Perspective of American Conservators,” presented at the Symposium Konservierung und Digitalizierung von den Bach Handschriften, Bach Archiv, Leipzig, Germany, 2003.
  • “ Heritage Books and Documents: Their Treatment and Conservation”  lecture and workshop at the 3rd NPO symposium, Nara, Japan, 2009