Poison Book Project

The Winterthur Poison Book Project is an ongoing investigation, initiated in April 2019, to identify potentially toxic pigments coloring Victorian-era bookcloth. Analysis of decorated, cloth-case bindings at Winterthur Library revealed starch-coated bookcloth colored with “emerald green,” or copper acetoarsenite, an inorganic pigment known to be extremely toxic.

We have developed a color swatch bookmark to aid in the visual identification of volumes potentially bound in emerald green bookcloth. For more information, including safe handling and storage tips, please visit: Winterthur Poison Book Wiki.

If you have identified a bookbinding you believe to be colored with emerald green pigment, please submit your data via this form, and upload a corroborating file to support your claim. For visual identification, we request a JPG of the book adjacent to one of our color swatch bookmarks. For X-ray fluorescence (XRF) or Raman spectroscopy, we request a PDF or JPG of the spectra. For identification using polarized light microscopy (PLM), we request a JPG photomicrograph. Thank you for contributing data to the Poison Book Project!