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Subject: Clock labels

Clock labels

From: Detlef Klein <klein>
Date: Thursday, December 10, 1998
Gail McLain <oldtime [at] nhmccd__campus__mci__net> writes

>We are clock restorers and we are searching for more advanced
>methods of preserving deteriorating paper clock labels in antique
>clocks.  We have extensively searched horological resources, and
>have found only the following information.
>The most common method of preservation other than doing nothing at
>all, is to use a 50/50% solution of Elmer's Glue and water carefully
>brushed over the paper while it is in place in the clock. This seems
>to be a widespread practice.
>We have read a very brief article about using an acrylic resin
>varnish that was said to be reversible (?) called Soluvar.

Thank you for making public this unfortunate method of regluing
labels by brushing on diluted Elmers glue or soluvar varnish. I do
not know Elmers glue but assume it to be a PVA type adhesive. At any
rate brushing any type of glue or varnish *on top* of things like
labels in a bid to consolidate them is very bad practice and will do
more to ultimately destroy the labels than preserve them.
Discoloration is one result, others are differing
expansion/contraction rates of glue or varnish on the usually
fragile paper causing damage, embrittlement etc, readhesion of the
paper to the clock case is likely to be temporary or incomplete as
the glue or varnish penetrates unevenly, reversibility is at least
severely compromised and so forth. The correct way to reattach loose
fragments of a paper label in these cases is to use a weak solution
of a conservation quality methyl cellulose size, carefully applied
to the undersides of insecure areas with a small brush to reglue
those bits that need reattaching, being careful not to spread the
adhesive onto surrounding surfaces.

Detlef Klein, conservator of objects and furniture
The Science Centre & Manawatu Museum
Palmerston North
New Zealand
Detlef Klein
The Science Centre & Manawatu Museum
Private Bag 11055
Palmerston North, New Zealand
+64 6 3555123 or 021 608259

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:51
                Distributed: Tuesday, December 15, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-51-007
Received on Thursday, 10 December, 1998

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