Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Guest Brian von Etzel

$20 for $15,000 Worth of Enamel

Recommended Posts

Guest Brian von Etzel

How many of you use the clean, pure cotton gloves, acid free museum cardboard boxes and museum clear storage boxes? I have decided that if I can't get drunk enough to scratch von Etzel on these awards the least I can do is preserve them in the bank safe deposit box in a manner that a museum would.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Brian von Etzel

Every material will NOT off-gas, inert, free of acid... And, padded with like materials to prevent acidental breakage to from pickup. Be careful with the cotton gloves, they grab at the sword hilts, etc., almost sent the breast star flying when it was stuck to my glove... When preservation kills. These materials are horribly expensive because you buy in bulk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Brian von Etzel

Anyone recognize the neck cross worn by Lt. Gen. v. Etzel in Stephen's new book, Prussian Blue?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Brian von Etzel

Nor do I discriminate against the awards of another generation borne by air.

A very good friend works for the Smithsonian, there's a reason they don't use the cheaper Ryker mounts...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Brian von Etzel

It's pricey to store your stuff properly but from this point forward, no degradation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian, those are really beautiful pieces. I would be torn between having them safely tucked away and having them out and accessible so I could look at them all the time. Prudence dictates the former and yet... As an aside, as the grandson of the General, have you ever had the desire to get in touch with the grandchildren of his contemporaries and his peers? Some of them must still be around. It might be really neat to compare notes and impressions. Just a thought. Regards, Chris B.

Edited by Chris B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Brian von Etzel

Chris it would be beyond fantastic to compare and exchange photo copies with grandchildren of his staff. Can you imagine the photos others might have that I don't?

I am not torn between having them safely tucked away. My photos on my computer screen are so vivid and bright. The thought of UVs dampening the colors, the elements corroding the metals, errant fingers on the pieces... I love my photos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian,

Differing metals (metals, not medals) can create specific problems when stored next to each other. Some materials are relatively inert, others can create an ion exchange that causes one or both to degrade or oxidize.

Perhpas the easiest way to understand this is what happens to household plumbing when a bronze fitting that has water passing through it, undergoes a slow ion excahnge that impacts the bronze fitting and results in leaks.

Ribbons, and cloth require specific storage situations. Folded cloth can begin to harden along crease lines that results in breakage lines/zones or tears when pieces are handled. The best way to store cloth is to stretch it out flat, with no creases, and no weight on top. Do not subject the cloth to any pressure.

An additional problem with cloth is...-silk-. Silk is not easy to stabilize or stop deterioration from taking place. Silk fibers are not spun the way normal cloth is, and is chemically and structurally different. In some ways, it's similar to hair. When silk (and hair) begin to age, it breaks or shears when stress or pressure is applied, or even during very light handling. Sunlight, darkness, makes no differences. Silk degrades as part of it's own aging process, and it will fall apart in time, and if handled, the process only speeds up.

If any of the ribbons are silk, stretch them out flat like any of the others, and keep them fixed to a spot where they won't move, and there is no uneven pressure. This will help some of those very special ones to last through many more generations.

You mentioned the word sword? If the scabbard or any fittings (the ferrule or bushing next to the hilt and blade backing) are leather, there is a potential problem with acidity left over from the tanning process. Acid in leather can affect steel or iron, as we all know. If you can detect any signs of chemical reactions going on, and the blade can be disassembled, giving any leather components their own special 'space" is something to consider.

That pickelhaube of your's with the Garde star, leather body, silk lining, and mixture of metal parts? That thing has all sorts of chemical considerations that will eventually interact with each other. Talk to your friend at the Smithsonian (if he has a curatorial background, and has had some chemistry courses along with the standard museology training) and get some professional advice on the specific requirements for that specific piece of headgear.

Les

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian, that is the best of both worlds. And maybe one day there'll be a post on this site that starts with ,

"I'm the grandson of adjutant von So and So....." He was with your Grandfather at...." Regards, Chris B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Brian von Etzel

Chris, yes, I'm waiting!

Les, this is good information. He does do curator work. His advice was also to keep the silk in as best an environment as possible. He suggested placing acid free tissue under the medals but the medals are sewn and I won't undo the sewing.

The PlM ribbon is perhaps the most scarey and it is very long. I need to get a much longer box for that one. I find the curatorial process now very exciting. It's one way I can at least put these into a box good for the next 100 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris, yes, I'm waiting!

Les, this is good information. He does do curator work. His advice was also to keep the silk in as best an environment as possible. He suggested placing acid free tissue under the medals but the medals are sewn and I won't undo the sewing.

The PlM ribbon is perhaps the most scarey and it is very long. I need to get a much longer box for that one. I find the curatorial process now very exciting. It's one way I can at least put these into a box good for the next 100 years.

Brian, I've heard of winding long ribbons and similar items around a relatively large diameter cylinder with an acid free backing between the layers. Depending on how it's done, it can support the layers of fabric, while providing cushoning, and prevent the material from moving around. Thing is, get the wrapping right...not too tight, or too loose.

Chemical reactions are linked to heat, and some museums have experimented with freezing some items (if they are worth the trouble) or storage in reduced temperature environments (the way fur coats are stored for example) to slow down degeneration. Sealed containers with inert gases inside are another method.

The large medal bar is going to be a problem with all of the medals on it. The combination of weight, lack of support for the medal itself and overlying the cloth in places are factors to ask an expert about. The fabric will eventually start breaking up, but the idea is to make sure that it's later rather than sooner.

If anyone has seen Jurassic Park, and recalls the mosquitoes trapped in amber surviving millenia, .....that concept could be applied to medals. (Tongue in cheek here.) Imagine everything embedded in a large lucite block, and setting on the mantel, with an inscribed brass plate also inside indicating who it all belonged to once upon a time.... <ack> <cough> <gasp>

Les

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Brian von Etzel

Well everyone should be happy I won't set it in lucite. I think gas filled display cases are a little of my reach also. But this is no doubt what the people who own priceless manuscripts must do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×