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Advice on preserving a silk North Korean battle flag?


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Hello all!

 

 

I just acquired this 36" x 19" silk (?) North Korean flag. It is a war souvenir brought to the US around 1952 by a Marine I actually knew when I was a kid and he was enjoying his retirement in Florida. He was given it in the hospital as he was being medically evacuated from Korea after he lost of all his own souvenirs. He has now passed on, and I was given it by a mutual friend after returning from a recent, much more peaceful tour in the Republic of Korea. The flag is missing one of its ties, has several small rips where it was folded, and is severely faded. Photos are enclosed. I am aware of many similar flags which Americans brought back from Korea, including one which was supposedly taken off a destroyed North Korean tank in 1950, suggesting these may have been used for battlefield identification purposes.

 

Whatever it is worth, it has immense sentimental value to me. I'd like to get it professional cleaned and framed behind UV-resistant glass so I can display it. Do you have any advice on the best way to do this? I was advised by a seasoned collector whose advice I general trust that cleaning it very gently in cool, purified water would not harm the silk, and that I should then keep it rolled up flat between pieces of non-acidic paper for a while once it was totally dry would get rid of the folds. However, I don't really trust myself to not damage it further. I live in Annapolis, Maryland and was thinking I might try to find a nearby specialist to clean it up. I know that George Washington University in Washington, D.C. has a program in historic preservation and was also thinking I might offer it up as a student preservation project (I once met a student from there who offered to preserve a Mahdist Sudanese jibbeh I had for free as her senior thesis! Sadly it didn't work out as I moved out of town and I lost her card). I'm open to any and all advice on conserving and displaying this piece.

 

Also, if anyone has any Korean People's Army or Chinese Volunteer items of their own, please feel free to reach out. I am interested in acquiring more. Thanks so much!

 

Best,

T.S. Allen

 

 

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TheDamage.JPG

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I know just enough to be dangerous when it comes to preserving textiles and what I do know is that it is specialist work!  The only easy and safe advice I have is: wrap it in acid free archival paper - art stores may have it - and keep it away from light.

After that, if you want to do more, plan to spend money with a profesional conservator.  Anybody else may well do more harm than good.  The US National Parks Service publishes a series called "Conservo-grams".  https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/cons_toc.html

Section 16 has some on textiles including one on riolling and storing flags.  Good luck!

Peter

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