Dating Conservation Supplies

When I arrived in the Alaska State Museum lab in 2006, there were a lot of old conservation materials (especially adhesives) that had accumulated since the lab was founded in 1976.  I also had a file of old purchase orders.  I got curious about how old the supplies were.  Even though our materials are supposed to age well, it is interesting to note that a lot of the supplies we use came into frequent use in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, which is around the same time graduate conservation training programs first got established in the United States.  I wonder how much introspection has been done on the history of our suppliers?  Here are some suppliers and how far back they go.  I’m wondering what ever happened to Conservation Support Systems…anyone know?


You can roughly date the products because the addresses were usually included on the labels. 

Spring 1978: Dorothy and Douglas Adams bought Conservation Materials Ltd in and moved to Sparks, Nevada where a shipping distribution center was available.  (source: WAAC newsletter profile on the owners 1986)  The company also put out a really interesting newsletter called “CM Times” that included a lot of great info.


1980’s: 240 Freeport Blvd Box 2884  TELEX 377405 (702) 331-0582

1989 – Early 1990’s: 1165 Marietta Way  PO Box 2884 (702) 331-0582 FAX (702) 331-0588

New labels include NEW FAX number which was mentioned in WAAC newsletter in 1989

1993-95?: 1275 Kleppe Lane #10 PO Box 2884 New address mentioned in Sept 1993 WAAC newsletter

May 20, 1994: Douglas Adams died in a car accident, Dorothy continued the business

By 1996: 1395 Greg Street Suite #110 (702) 331-0582 FAX (702) 331-0588

1997 Out of business.  Dorothy Adams started a similar business, but sold it in July 1997.   


1997 Conservator’s Emporium apparently bought the stock of Conservation Materials Ltd.  Run by William and Yolanda Foster.  He was a business consultant and she was a chemist.  New address 100 Standing Rock Circle in Reno, NV (Abby Newsletter V 21 #3 Sept 1997)

1999 Cons Mat Ltd used to make Quake Wax, but rights to the product were acquired in 1999 by Trevco, Makers of Quakehold!  Museum Wax, Clear Museum Gel and Museum Putty. 

2004 Flurry of distlist email rumors about Conservators Emporium being out of business or lagging far behind in their orders.  William Foster writes in July of 2004 to say he has $30,000 in unpaid receivables and the business is struggling.  Sold to MuseuM Services Corporation in 2005.


1968 founded

2005 Peter Mecklenburg of MuseuM Services Corporation announces that it acquired Conservator’s Emporium as of Nov 1 2005.New location is 385 Bridgeport Drive, South St Paul, Minnesota.


1962 Catalog says it was established in 1962

The 12 edition catalog generously provides dates and past locations:

1984 – 1994: 315 West 35th Street, New York NY

1994 – 2004: 568 Broadway, New York NY

2004-2008: 20 West 20th Street, New York, NY

2008- present: 330 Morgan Ave Brooklyn NY


1968 founded


4 Responses to Dating Conservation Supplies

  1. Pete Kaufman says:


    I was very interested in finding out information on John Jensen’s S.S. Portland project. Can you point me in the right direction? Was there a filmed documentary of this ship?

    Many thanks.


    Pete Kaufman

  2. ellencarrlee says:

    I passed on your request and contact info to him.

  3. José Nolasco A. says:

    Dear Conservation Materials
    We are from Honduras and we have Thymol(USP Grade) and we would like to know what is the Used,
    Sorry for my poor English we have and we will appreciated your Help with this information,

    Kind Regards,

    José Nolasco A.

  4. ellencarrlee says:

    Thymol used to be used to kill active mold, especially in libraries. Research suggested it is damaging to materials like cellulose, gum arabic, and iron gall ink. I was not taught anything about thymol in grad school, instead, we were taught to kill the mold with an alcohol, like ethanol.

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