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Subject: Wax


From: Kory Berrett <kory>
Date: Tuesday, June 25, 1996
Craig Deller <craig1708 [at] aol__com> writes

>I was recently asked about what appears to be mold growing on wax.
>The objects in question are 19th Century American wax fruit that are
>stored in an enclosed glass cabinet for display in a private home.
>The owner has observed (I have not) a whitish material that forms on
>the tops of the "fruit" and can only describe it as a mold.  They
>have also said that by placing moth balls in the case the "mold"
>seems to disappear. Has anyone any experience with such a

There are a least two possibilities that come immediately to mind:
If there is any nutritive organic content to the wax (and there
probably is) it may indeed be mold.  Optical resolution under a
microscope may be possible, although I have seen some molds so fine
that SEM was necessary to visualize their morphology and thus
identify them.  The second possibility is that the white material is
a deterioration product of the wax as it ages.  Analysis by FTIR may
be useful to sort this out.  As for the moth balls, I don't believe
para-dichlorobenzine is considered a fungicide, only an insect
repellent.  As it volatilizes inside the display case it may be
depositing a thin coating on the wax and interfering with the
phenomenon in either case.

Kory Berrett, Object Conservator

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:3
                  Distributed: Thursday, June 27, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-10-3-003
Received on Tuesday, 25 June, 1996

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