Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Some New Objects Came In - June 25 2013

June 25, 2013

Someone came in this week with some historical objects from home to donate to the museum.  This is a regular occurrence as people clear out the attic or decide that it is time to make some of their family artifacts available for others to enjoy.  This is one of the joys of working in a museum....you never really know what may come walking in the door.  There are often pleasant surprises that can be of great interest to the public.  Here is what was brought in:

  • a child's chair from the Victorian era (1837 to 1901) - possibly late 1800's,
  • a bone handled straight razor in its box without a top,
  • a fully functional mechanical pencil with lead refill - possibly early 1900's,
  • a 1961 book of cartoons from the Halifax daily newspaper of the time in mint condition,
  • a school reader from the 1930's with student notes, underlining, and other scribbles,
  • a military canteen from the 1950s in its carrying case,
  • a brass book mark with a colourful butterfly at one end,
  • a silver plated 1880's spoon warmer,
  • two tall, ceramic alcohol jugs with different sayings in German.
Tasked with doing conservation work on these objects I can say that very, very little needs to be done.  I generally concentrate on cleaning, polishing, very minor repairs, packaging, storage, photographing and database updates (www.novamuse.ca).  In all cases these were clean meaning that I did not have to brush off any dirt or wipe off dust.  They are all showing some of what could be called normal wear and tear which is part of the objects' history and thus would need no remediation.

Victorian Era child's chair.
An example is the child's chair which is very solid and sturdy but shows some rips, minor staining, and loose threads in the seat cover.  It has been refinished with a varnish and the seat cover may have been replaced.  With the under seat strapping and frame in very good condition I can see no reason to do any changes.  Normally, I would recommend that wood not be refinished, the natural patina is often best left as is.  Antique TV shows often point out that wooden objects loose value when refinished.  The natural wear and patina reflect the use of the object and from conservator's point of view is a valuable reflection of the history of the object.  This chair shows the craftsmanship of the era and is a testament to the maker's skills and pride in producing high quality goods.

Late 1800's spoon warmer.
Another example is silver plated spoon warmer which is showing the usual black spotting and scratches from polishing or wear.  Since it is silver plated there is very little reason to try polishing it further since there is little or no silver left in these areas.  This object was used to keep spoons warm when boiling water was poured inside and a small lid was closed to keep the spoons warm.  This practice was popular in some circles in the 1800's but died out at the turn of the last century.

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