Sunday, 13 October 2013

Some New Objects Came In - June 25 2013 (Continued)

July 2, 2013

Alcohol Jug - Luther
Alcohol Jug - Proverb

Perhaps the most important part of historical objects coming in the museum from the public as donations are the stories that accompany the objects.  Last week I wrote about the objects and briefly described two of them with photos.  This week I have two more from the same group that are of particular interest.  The person who brought them in shared what information he had on his objects.  This is especially exciting and important because these stories are what helps us to date them, understand how they were used, which family members used them, and any repairs done to them.

These objects are alcohol jugs with sayings inscribed in German on the front and raised images such as flowers and birds in many locations.  In both cases the handles on the back are broken with missing pieces.  One of them has a quote from Martin Luther, the other a German Proverb.  One of them shows many cracks with obvious repairs and yellowish-brown staining.  The staining is on or near the cracks so represents an excessive amount of adhesive used to do repairs.
There are several interesting aspects to these examples:
  1. the owner said he had played with these as a child; 
  2. the quotation on the front in German; and
  3. the conservation possibilities. 
Since we know the age of the donor (in his 90's) we can date the jug to at least his childhood.  The origin is unknown.  I am continuing research on determining the maker and date of these objects.  If any of you know more about these please leave a comment below.

The quotation on one jug is attributed to Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) as follows:
"He who loves not wine, women, and song remains a fool his whole life long."
On the other jug the quotation is a German proverb:
"Happy is the one who forgets that which cannot be changed." 
The possibility for conservation on the jug with the Martin Luther quotation is that the adhesive could be removed, the object disassembled, the pieces cleaned and reattached with conservation grade adhesive.  The missing handles can also be remade (molded), painted with exact colour match, and attached.  The end result would be a "like new" object.  Repairs undertaken by conservators are done ethically in such a way that the original aspects of the object are restored but that the repairs will be obvious under intensive observation such as a magnifying glass or a microscope.  It is also critically important that any repairs be easily reversed.  The entire repair process would be documented in detail with photographs at every stage and becomes part of the historical record of the object.  This is a labour intensive process and would usually only be attempted on objects of special historical significance due to the cost involved.  In our case I would recommend that it be left as is since the repairs represent an important aspect of the history of the object.

Information Tip:

More information is available on by searching on accession number 2013.014.001 or 2013.014.002.  Just type in or cut and paste the accession number in the search box on the upper right of the page and press enter to bring up more information.  There is a detailed description plus measurements, condition information, some history on the original owner, and conservation work.

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