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Subject: Deer head

Deer head

From: Helena Jaeschke <mrshjaeschke>
Date: Friday, July 19, 2002
Mark Vine <100436.3447 [at] compuserve__com> writes

>This message is placed on behalf of a custodian of an historic
>house, who does not have access to email
>Can anyone suggest the best way of treating a 100 year old deer's
>head that is moulting? The custodian wishes to preserve the head and
>has asked if there is any simple way of consolidating the hair to
>reduce further loss.
>Can anyone also suggest what might have led to the hair suddenly
>moulting after so many years in place.

Has the deer head suddenly begun to lose hair, or has it recently
been examined and the hair loss noticed for the first time ? We have
found that the loss of hair, fur or feathers on natural history
specimens has sometimes only been noticed by the owners when the
object is handled after a long period in storage or even on display,
although there is reason to believe it has been quietly moulting for
some time, e.g. loose hair on the base of the case.

A change in humidity might change the elasticity of the skin,
allowing hair to detach, or might encourage bacterial action at or
near the follicles.

Although it might sound a little bizarre, consolidation with a very
dilute solution of Acryloid/Paraloid B72 in acetone (approximately
5% weight/vol, but test first!) has proved very successful at
retaining the hair on an 80 year old toy made of cowhide. The object
could not be handled because the hair was removed with the slightest
touch. The solution was allowed to flow onto the surface from the
tip of an artist's watercolour brush and the solvent allowed to
evaporate naturally. Normally we would cover an item with a
polythene container to slow down the evaporation, but in this case
we left it open, rather than risk any air movement displacing
further hair. After several applications the entire surface had been
treated. Very fragile areas received more than one treatment. Any
excess Paraloid was removed with very light applications of swabs of
acetone. The surface could then be cleaned to removed dust and
debris. Although we do not recommend that the piece continue to be
used as a toy, it can now be handled (and turned upside down to
allow it to "moo"). The hair is firm and looks clean and healthy.

Helena Jaeschke
Archaeological conservator

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:7
                   Distributed: Friday, July 19, 2002
                        Message Id: cdl-16-7-004
Received on Friday, 19 July, 2002

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