Everyday I’m reminded of my failure to observe some of the most basic rules for protecting and preserving the items in my collection. Hanging in my office is a framed, autographed Peyton Manning photo, and a list of the records he set in his rookie season. At one time, his signature boldly sprawled from one edge of the photo to the other. Today, it’s barely visible.
Rust. One of the most formidable enemies of antique collectors the world over. Not only is rust visually unappealing, it’s a bona fide antique killer!
Given enough time, oxygen, and water (moisture), an iron object will inevitably transform to rust and disintegrate. The longer rust is allowed to persist, the more it devours its host.
Over the years, I’ve tried dozens of rust removal techniques; everything from good ole’ fashion elbow grease to harsh chemicals. Having restored hundreds of iron objects, I’ve settled on three inexpensive, non-toxic methods that have produced the best results. Read more
In June of 1941, the famed General George S. Patton arrived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee along with 11,000 troops and 2,000 vehicles. In short order, as many as 77,000 troops had converged on Middle Tennessee and were soon divided into opposing Red and Blue Armies that would clash in simulated, but realistic, battles that would continue through 1944. When operations ended in ‘44, more than 800,000 troops had occupied more than 2.25 million acres and 22 counties in Middle Tennessee. Read more
When attending a Civil War or Native American artifact show, I’ve grown accustom to being one of the youngest people in attendance. At nearly 40-years of age, my dark head of hair contrasts sharply against the sea of “silver foxes” and “cotton-tops” shuffling through the aisles of any given show. And to the eyes of today’s adolescent or teenager, such a scene might be enough to dissuade them from exploring no further than a quick glance up from their device! In my experience however, the welcoming generosity of others has helped usher in a new and younger demographic of collectors into this wonderful hobby. Read more
One of the world’s most expansive anthropology and natural history collections was almost completely destroyed by a raging inferno this past Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Museu Nacional (National Museum) housed nearly 20 million artifacts; including mummified remains, indigenous art and artifacts, frescoes from Pompeii, fossil records, dinosaur bones, and a scientific library. Read more
Wondering what type of fabric is safest for your displayed objects? Of all the factors to consider when selecting a fabric for your display case, fiber content is the most important. Certain fibers, such as silk, are naturally acidic and should never come in direct contact with objects. Other fibers may emit harmful volatiles, such as sulfur compounds. Wool fabrics and felts are an example. Wool is also a food source for pests like clothes moths, carpet beetles, silverfish, and crickets to name just a few. Such fabrics should be avoided altogether. Read more
On a recent metal detecting getaway in Augusta, Georgia, I stumbled across a pretty neat plumb hatchet. Okay, I’ll come clean. I wasn’t the first person to find it, as another detectorist had previously unearthed it and tossed it aside as junk. But hey, I have no shame – one man’s junk is another man’s treasure! Based on what I know about the site and the age of objects recovered throughout the day, I suspect the hatchet dates anywhere between 1860 to the early 1900s. Regardless of its age or history, I thought it had a cool look and decided to take it home for a future weekend restoration project. Read more
While metal detecting farmland close to his home in Staffordshire, England, Terry Herbert, an unemployed metal detecting enthusiast, stumbled on the largest, most jaw-dropping discovery of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found, anywhere in the world. Read more
As Hurricane Matthew battered the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, it dredged-up a few reminders of a previous and more violent affair. While walking the shoreline on Folly Beach Island, a local resident discovered 16 Civil War artillery shells that washed ashore in the wake of Matthew. News outlets reporting the story used words like “uncovered, discovered, unearthed, and revealed” in their headlines. Sadly, such words only told half the story. Read more
As a metal detectorist, I often find buttons, thimbles, scissors, and other items related to clothing accessories or production. And from time-to-time, out pops a lead seal. For research purposes, the discovery of lead bale seals can help uncover the lost connections between North American colonial settlements and textile manufacturing in Europe.