Mike Huxley

Cleaning Silver Thread

32 posts in this topic

I respect all views on whether to clean or not to clean, but do not understand why "it is generally a bad idea to clean the antique uniform...". I would be grateful for some reasons therefor.

I have collected bullion badges and embroidered uniforms for 25 years. Before deciding on whether to clean or not, I examine the garment or badge in minutia, to determine, inter alia, the type and condition of the thread and the type and condition of the backing cloth. Poor quality bullion does not clean very well, and neither does very worn bullion which has been exposed to abrasion for a long time. In my experience old British, French and German bullion is of a high quality and I can normally successfully lift tarnish without damaging the thread. 

Italian and US bullion need to be closely examined before deciding to clean, as it is sometimes of an inferior quality. I have found that the worst is Pakistani thread, which is generally of a very poor quality. 

I generally take a conservative approach, and do not attempt cleaning if I believe that there is a significant risk of damage. Not only do I consider the bullion thread, but also the color and type of backing cloth and the condition of the cotton thread which is often used to hold the bullion in place. 

I have tried just about everything that doesn't work, from metal polish to toothpaste, gold and silver dip, vinegar and gentle soap, and I have learned some hard lessons along the way. Nevertheless I have been able to achieve some very gratifying results.  

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Hello Derekcccp;

Perhaps you are right.  I am rejecting your cleaning technique before you have even told us HOW and with WHAT you clean your bullion thread.  Maybe you have developed some kind of Reverse-Induction-Osmosis-Titrate that removes all tarnish without disturbing the piece.

But you did say yourself, that you have 25 years of experience and need to use judgment when deciding to clean or not.  An amateur to this field will hear about the benefits of cleaning and before they can say "soaked through" the patch is turned into a ball of thread with shiny metallic bits embedded in it. 

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Honestly leave it alone.  I agree with Claudius.  You devalue the item when you clean it and a lot of the cleaners have stuff in them that will ruin your piece over time.

I wanted to restore a pair of Bergschuhe and was going to clean them to pull the dirt out of them.  My leather was really dry.  I was going to polish them after cleaning them.  Instead I just put a light coat of Pecard Leather Dressing on them to soften the leather up; with my finger.  That is it, and they are fine.  Be very careful with cloth.

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No, No, Claudius - perhaps YOU are right. Since you are the expert in these matters, I am sure that there is no way whatsoever to safely and effectively clean bullion embroidery. 

It is very surprising indeed for me to be willing to share an effective method of cleaning bullion embroidery which has taken many years to get right, only to be treated with unsolicited derision.

For those of you who may have been interested in what I was willing to share, thank Claudius for helping me to change my mind.

 I will, provided I am not hoofed off this forum at his request , shortly provide a set of photographs to show the results. 

Res ipsa loquitor.

 

 

Thank you ostprussenmann_new for the cautionary comments.

Believe you me, there are certain pieces I would be very loath to interfere with, especially those found on worn or very delicate fabrics.

There are however times when for instance I come across a bullion badge or perhaps an embroidered military hat that is just plain dirty or badly tarnished because of incorrect handling by irresponsible previous owners. It is a pleasure to be able to remove some of the grime that veils the item's former beauty and to appreciate what the embroiderers intended for us to see.

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ID: 30   Posted (edited)

28 minutes ago, derekcccp@gmail.com said:

No, No, Claudius - perhaps YOU are right. Since you are the expert in these matters, I am sure that there is no way whatsoever to safely and effectively clean bullion embroidery. 

It is very surprising indeed for me to be willing to share an effective method of cleaning bullion embroidery which has taken many years to get right, only to be treated with unsolicited derision.

For those of you who may have been interested in what I was willing to share, thank Claudius for helping me to change my mind.

 I will, provided I am not hoofed off this forum at his request , shortly provide a set of photographs to show the results. 

Res ipsa loquitor.

 

 

Res ipsa loquitor? -it is what I asked for, HOW and WHAT.  But perhaps you might feel that Habeas corpus is more appropriate because you feel you are unjustly judged before you had a chance to present your methods for inspection.

As for "hoofed off this forum" I'm flattered that you think I have any such influence when in fact I have none, and have even less desire to inflict any.

 

Edited by Claudius

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Hello Derekcccp;

If you decide to post your techniques and procedures, Before and After photos of bullion restoration, may I recommend that you open a separate, dedicated thread on this "Preservation & Restoration of Military Artifacts" page.

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I don't believe that anyone is advocating taking anyone else off the GMIC at this point.  And, please, recall the word 'Gentlemen'.  I believe we can disagree civilly.

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