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Old 9th February 2022, 08:58 PM   #1
awdaniec666's Avatar
Join Date: May 2021
Location: Northern Germany
Posts: 121
Lightbulb Conservation and Restoration of antique arms

The idea for this thread came while speaking about cleaning, patina etc. on another thread.
Every collector is faced with the task of maintaining a certain degree of quality-managment regarding his or her collection. I want to make a start here on this topic briefly and from my perspective. Parts of these are subject to individual preferences and own philosophy regarding antiques. The methods listed here are not my personal agenda but a brief overview what is possible and known to me. I sorted it like I thought it makes sense, it´s not "the one and only way". This is meant to be a little spark which may ignite an interesting discussion.


The areas of interest are summarized:

1. Assessment of the current state
2. Comparison with its supposed original state
3. Evaluating further procedures to achieve a state of originality without destroying the integrity of the object
4. Choice of instruments to realize the foregoing step
5. Execution of procedures


1. Assessment of the current state

- Are parts missing?
- Are parts damaged?
- Is there corrosion? Which quality is it?
- Is there dirt?
- Any leftovers from previous conservation/cleaning?

2. Comparison with its supposed original state

- Specific for each object. Example: Strong corrosion with unclear etching, gilding or blueing beneath could be such a question.

3. Evaluating further procedures to achieve a state of originality without destroying the integrity of the object


- This depends strongly on personal preference.
- Soft cleaning (f.e.: mild abrasives like Pre-Lim, water+soap, fine steel wool)
---> "The history remains on the object, object eventually hiding details like marks or engravings"

- Medium cleaning (f.e.: Brasso, medium steel wool, acid, polishing wheel)
---> "Original state can be guessed/seen while respecting the age and patina"

-Strong cleaning (f.e: acid+steel brush, sandpaper)
---> "Original material colours showing, bright shine, details may be lost in the process. The whole object or part of it cleaned in that way never existed as the original surface layer has been probably removed, if not done before."


- Minor repairs: Gripwire, small organic material defects, minor painting etc.
- Medium repairs: Minor brazing, medium material defects, re-gilding etc.
- Major repairs: Everything involving opening the hilt (destroying the original peening on the pommel), Blade brazing, exchanging whole parts

(P.S.: I already see the faces of some of you reading this. Some things are not what I personally do or would do! Feel free to discuss what restorations should be punished.)

4. Choice of instruments to realize the foregoing step

This is my personal gear. I mark the chemical products which I know to be used for antique arms by museums with an "(M)".

- PreLim: Mild abrasive, (M)
- Brasso: Medium abrasive with chemical cleaning component
- Rennaisance Wax: Sealing all surfaces (M), instead of weapon oil like Ballistol
- Cotton
- Steel-wire brush
- Toothbrush, for detailed or hidden ares
- Toothpicks, --//--
- Citric acid for stains of brasso
- 30 % Phosphoric acid for strong corrosion (M)
- Gloves
- Safety googles
- Maroquin, for dry leather (M)
- Ethanol

- Surgical/Ophtalmologic instruments, leather sewing set, saw, rasp, spare wood, black leather, bismuth, Bunsen burner, magnifying glass with stand and two static forceps, different brushes

5. Execution of procedures

Here I just want to point to good books on antique arms restoration. Mine f.e. is "Konserwacja broni bialej" by Dr. Janusz Sekowski (in Polish). These books tend to be expensive but it´s worth it. There is also a reason why there are professional restorers for arms around, prices are very high though.
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