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Subject: Conservation of toilets from shipwreck

Conservation of toilets from shipwreck

From: Lisa Goldberg <goldkoob>
Date: Wednesday, July 8, 1998
    My colleague and friend Lisa Goldberg at the Washington Navy
    Yard Museum forwarded the questions of Nicki Smith related to
    the composite commodes found on a shipwreck. In fact these
    artifacts seems to be very close to those recovered from the
    Alabama and now displayed in Washington D.C. at the Navy Museum,
    Washington Navy Yard.  I was responsible for the conservation
    treatment of two of these items from the Alabama. I would be
    very glad to share my experience with Nicki and give my opinion
    on her problem. I wrote about the ethical and technical problems
    encountered in treating these items in a paper which was
    published in Underwater Archaeology, the Society for Historical
    Archaeology, edited by Denise Lakey, 1997:128-134.

    I agree with Patrick Gallagh regarding lead corrosion in soft
    water, a tricky trap in underwater conservation.  I don't really
    think either that cathodic protection will be of any help to
    store safely this composite object or remove the salts or
    chlorides. In my opinion the best option is to use tap water as
    a storage solution while a conservation plan is prepared and not
    use any other product than soap to clean it (Chlorinated
    detergents of fungicides for instance could drastically enhance
    the corrosion of the different metals). The conservation of
    these items is highly difficult due to their very composite
    nature. Extreme care should be taken before any irreversible
    action is undertaken. The decision to separate or not the
    different parts is a crucial one. The paper mentioned above
    should help you in your decision. I am surprised that some
    leather was found on the commodes and I cannot figure out the
    reason why. I recommend you to be very cautious to the highly
    fragilized cast iron base which is completely graphitized. The
    treatments detailed in the above mentioned publication allowed
    me to avoid disassembly and to preserve the cast iron base as

    For any questions feel free to contact Lisa Goldberg at the
    Washington Navy Yard or me in France.

    Paul Mardikian
    Underwater Conservation Lab
    Archeolyse International
    1 place de l'Aubarede
    06110 Le Cannet
    +33 4 93 69-69-79
    Fax: +33 4 93 69 69 78
    archeolyse [at] compuserve__com

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:10
                  Distributed: Tuesday, July 14, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-10-006
Received on Wednesday, 8 July, 1998

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