The Poison Book Project is an interdisciplinary research initiative at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library and the University of Delaware. This ongoing investigation explores the materiality of Victorian-era publishers’ bindings. Research focuses on identifying potentially toxic pigments used in bookbinding components and how to handle and store potentially toxic collections more safely. For the most current information about the project, please monitor this website, which is updated regularly. Project developments are also shared on Instagram and LinkedIn with the hashtags #poisonbookproject and #bibliotoxicology.

Learn about Arsenic

Get info about usage of arsenic in Victorian-era bookbindings

Learn about Other Heavy  Metals

Get info about usage of other heavy metals, like lead, chromium, and mercury in Victorian-era bookbindings

Project Updates

300+ ‘Poison Books’ and counting…
Our May 4, 2024 update to the Arsenical Books Database brings the …
Poison Books on the ALA Call Number Podcast
The Poison Book Project team is grateful to American Libraries Associate Editor …


Copyright 2024. This article describes conservation procedures and is meant to be used as exchange of technical information among trained cultural heritage conservators, and the procedures described herein should not be performed by anyone who is not a trained professional. Further, any advice, graphics, images, and information contained in this page is presented for general educational and information purposes, and to increase safety awareness in connection with the storage and handling of aged books that may contain toxic chemicals, such as arsenic. The storage, handling, and other safety tips included in this page are suggestions only and have been collected by the Poison Book Project of The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc. after consultation with scientists and other experts in the conservation field. None of the content in this page has been subjected to a formal peer review and is not intended to be medical or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate professionals. The information contained in this page should not be considered exhaustive, and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.

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