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Subject: Dating oilcloth

Dating oilcloth

From: Ingo Carow <s0162653>
Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000
Tamara Lavrencic <tamaral [at] gh__hht__nsw__gov__au> writes

>A colleague and I are trying to develop some criteria for use in
>dating oilcloth. We are looking at the support (fibre
>identification, thread count, fabric width), the "paint" layer
>(thickness, medium, back colour), and the design (printing method,
>design features). Does anyone know of any references that might be

When I was writing my diploma thesis on the conservation of
artificial leathers and leathercloth I came across a lot of
information concerning this topic.

The first step to date oilcloth is to identify the materials used.
It gives you a hint what kind of a cloth it might be (oilcloth,
leathercloth, linoleum, lincrusta or artificial leather). Following
a short explanation of every term:

    oilcloth: fabric soaked with a drying vegetable oil (linseed oil)

    leathercloth: like oilcloth, but with several layers (first one
    contains a mixture of filler, starch paste and pre-polymerized
    linseed oil; next ones mixture of linseed varnishes)

    linoleum: fabric with a coating (mixture of drying vegetable
    oils, cork flour, filler and pigments)

    lincrusta: like linoleum, but with wood flour instead of cork
    artificial leather: fabric with a layer (mixture of cellulose
    nitrate, filler and pigments)

Following a rough timetable:

    *   since 17th century, oilcloth

    *   1859, leathercloth

    *   1900, artificial leather

Dating might be possible through the materials and the designs used.

As there is not much useful literature on this topic available, here
are some references I found:

    Ingo Carow.
    "Kunstlederbespannungen im fruhen Automobilbau--
        Der Wanderer 10/II"
    (Artificial leather-coverings in early car production)
    Diploma thesis FHTW Berlin, 1999

    Felix Fritz.
    "Herstellung von Wachstuch und Ledertuch"
    (Production of waxcloth and leathercloth), Stuttgart, 1950

    E. Laabs.
    "Uber Moglichkeiten, Lincrusta-Wandbespannungen zu restaurieren"
    (About possibilities to conserve lincrusta wallcoverings),
    Diploma thesis FHTW Berlin, 1998

    Walter M. Munzinger.
    "Kunstlederhandbuch" (Handbook of artificial leather),
    Berlin, 1950

    Valerie Thorp.
    "Imitation Leather: Structure, Composition and Conservation",
    in: Leather Conservation Newsletter, Vol. 6, Nr. 2,
    Spring 1990, 7-15

For the stabilisation of oilcloth (or whatever material you might
explore) it strongly depends on the characteristics of the materials
used (eg. solubility). I used "Mowilith 50" (polyvinylacetate) in
toluol with some propanol to stabilize a flaking layer of
leathercloth. Toluol, as it does not solve the layer and propanol,
to make it more flexible during the laying down process.

If you require any further information, don't hesitate to contact

Ingo Carow
Diploma conservator
(conservation of engineering and social history objects)
Hufelandstr. 17
10407 Berlin

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:47
                  Distributed: Tuesday, March 14, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-47-001
Received on Sunday, 12 March, 2000

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