Preserving the Past: Creekside Digital

Creekside2© Creekside Digital, 2017

I’ve always had a fascination with old documents, especially music manuscripts. Most of the time the few I could get my hands on were facsimile editions, and many of those only through interlibrary loans. Over the years I’ve spent many an hour punishing consumer-grade scanners in an effort to extract the highest manageable resolution. Even though I knew it was overkill my thinking was, why not scan them at the highest possible resolution while I still have access to them?

My workflow involved dividing the documents into sections, then I stitched them together in Photoshop since many were just a bit larger than the scanner’s platen. The file sizes were gigantic (well, for what I was used to at least) and the process took forever but I enjoyed doing it. Once all the pages were assembled I would then edit everything and print my very own, personal, facsimile editions for study. Here’s a small example: the cover wrapping from the autograph of Die Kunst der Fuge by Johann Sebastian Bach:


High-resolution scans of this work as well as many others by Bach are now available online through the Bach Digital project, but I’m still happy to have my over-scanned personal archive.

Fast-forward to today: coming in contact with original documents relating to A.W. Faber and Eberhard Faber has me scanning more than ever, and in the same manner. For example, this letter written by Johann Eberhard Faber in 1859:

Eberhard Faber Letter 1859 p. 432

However, the sheer amount of items as well as their physical dimensions mean that unless I make a serious, multi-thousand-dollar investment in some professional archiving equipment, I won’t be able to properly image everything. More importantly, I wanted to work toward creating a consistent, preservation-quality archive designed by professionals, which would protect the documents into the foreseeable future.

I contacted Jim Studnicki, the founder and President of Creekside Digital in Glen Arm, Maryland. I first met Jim some twenty years ago through mutual friends and from having done some recording together, but it was only recently that I learned of the company he founded. His clients form an impressive list of libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies, so I asked him what could be done.

The first “phase” of scans was completed several months ago. Items included a fourteen-page document titled “The History of the Lead Pencil” handwritten by Eberhard Faber II in the early 1900s, as well as handwritten university documents belonging to Johann Eberhard Faber dating back to the mid-1800s. The bulk of the project consisted of the minutes of the Eberhard Faber Company’s board meetings, beginning in 1898.


Just this week though the team began scanning a fragile, oversized company ledger.


Its entries begin in 1857 and is one of the only things that survived the devastating fire of 1872, which razed the company’s first factory to the ground. More about that ledger can be found in an earlier post. Here is a photo of the book being scanned:

Creekside1© Creekside Digital, 2017

Along with the two photos above, Jim sent along some videos of the scanning process. I’ve edited them together and the video can be seen here, or embedded below:


I can’t predict how much will eventually be archived. But I can say with confidence that the most vulnerable and fragile items have been scanned, which means that they will now last indefinitely into the future.

Thanks to Jim for the photos and video, as well as to the rest of the team at Creekside Digital for their fastidious work.

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13 Responses to Preserving the Past: Creekside Digital

  1. Sola says:

    The handwriting in the ledger is so lovely.

    BTW could you tell us what “rubber strips” might be? I’m assuming they aren’t talking about the erasers. How delightful to see color combinations on pencils debated with such gravity!


    • Sean says:

      The book is a masterpiece of Copperplate; kind of like the 19th-century pencil-industry equivalent of anything you’d find at Lindisfarne. 🙂

      Erasers for tipped pencils were often referred to as “rubber strips” in these documents. And while I don’t think they meant “rubber” in the British sense here, I think they might have been referring to the form in which they’re made. For example, erasers for round ferrules may have been extruded in long strips then cut to size. Erasers for the clamp may have been made in sheets, cut into strips, then cut to size. That’s all speculation though. As usual. 🙂


  2. Gunther says:

    Wow, this is impressive! It is great to see that these precious documents are taking care of in such a professional way.


  3. Way cool! And I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one to read the page of minutes. (I’m a retired recording secretary for two — count ’em, two — organizations.)

    The nickel and gilt combination: is that more or less the Mongol ferrule as we know it?


  4. I’m not sure how I missed that post. Thanks, Sean.


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