|Prescott Hose - Archaeological dig, Fall 2013|
I was given the opportunity to work on four metal objects that were found at the same location. These are a belt buckle, ice creeper (not discussed here), button, and bone handled knife. Each of these came to me in a plastic bag labelled with the location in which it was found and still immersed in the original soil in which it was found. This is the best way of removing these from their original location because it allows me to assess the impact of separating them from their environment and perhaps, if budgeting permitted, to get the soil analyzed. For precious objects this would be a necessary exercise to determine the best route of treatment. The constituents of the soil would help make the decision on which chemicals to use for cleaning, preventive measures, and storage. Since, in this case, we are dealing with a limited budget and non-precious objects (objects of lower value) this was not done. However, it does not stop us from doing some basic conservation work on these interesting objects.
I have provided photographs of three of these showing before images in which you can see the results of cleaning. There are several important lessons to be learned from this work. All these had a very serious amount of corrosion products in an active state. This was the result of many years where they were immersed in soil and sand subject to rain and snow with alternating freezing and thawing conditions typical of Nova Scotia. All of which exert considerable stresses.
|Buckle - front - before cleaning|
|Buckle - Front - Finished|
The buckle shown here was a mass of corrosion, sand, soil, and plant root. The layers of corrosion were heavy enough that it could not be completely cleaned off. No parts of it was movable and the underlying metal is not visible at all. Once again, any loose material was carefully removed and a layer of wax was applied. This object reacts strongly to a magnet so is likely made of iron.
|Button - Back - Finished|
|Button - Back - Cleaned|
In all cases these metal objects were accompanied with a two page laboratory record document that provides a detailed description, measurements, structure, possible history, manufacture, treatment applied, before and after photographs, storage and exhibit environmental control suggestions, and any other additional notes that were relevant. These documents becomes part of the permanent record for the province of Nova Scotia and Prescott House the owners of these important objects.