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Tuesday, May 17 • 11:15am - 11:30am
(Objects) An Unexpected Surface: Research and treatment of a 19th century mounted oyster shell by Froment-Meurice

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An oyster shell set into a delicate gold, silver, and gilt-silver metal mount belonging to the Walters Art Museum required treatment.  Made in the late 1870s in Paris by the celebrated goldsmith firm Froment-Meurice, the object was damaged and heavily tarnished.  Analytical testing and literature research indicated that the silver components may, in part, contain an originally applied patination layer (oxidized silver or argent noir).  Since intentionally patinated silver surfaces are rare in museum collections and literature resources are scare, it was decided not to polish the silver components, while the object would be cleaned overall and tarnish reduced only on the gilt-silver and gold components.  After careful testing, an acidified thiourea solution made with sulfuric acid and gelled with xanthan gum was used to reduce the tarnish on the delicate gold and gilt-silver components.  The formulation of the gel allowed for an extremely controlled application, and treatment resulted in a bright, shiny surface for the gilt-silver and gold metal, which required no additional buffing or polishing.  The intent of this paper is twofold: first, it will present current research, resources, and further avenues to investigate oxidized silver within the context of the Froment-Meurice workshop; and second, describe an efficient, highly controlled method to chemically reduce tarnish on delicate gold and gilt-silver surfaces.

avatar for Emily Brown

Emily Brown

Project Conservator, Penn Museum
Emily Brown is a Project Conservator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, where she works with colleagues in the stabilization treatment and de-installation of two large 15th century Chinese Buddhist wall murals, and a 5th Dynasty Egyptian tomb... Read More →

Tuesday May 17, 2016 11:15am - 11:30am EDT
Room 710 B