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Subject: 19th century military tent

19th century military tent

From: Endre Fodstad <enfodstad>
Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2004
I have recently examined a military tent last used in 1861 by
Charles XV, king of Sweden and Norway. The tent consists of:

    Two outer wall sections, a outer top section: Cotton (probably,
    might be flax) tabby weave canvas with red and blue decorative
    bands, probably cotton, affixed to the canvas.

    One inner wall section and inner top section: thin cotton tabby
    weave with red and blue lines woven into the fabric.

    Six wooden tent peg tops, gilded

    Circular wooden chandelier fastening (some 50cm diameter) that
    doubles as joiner of inner/outer top sections, with cotton blue,
    red and white decorative thread, possibly silk.

The tent is square and measures 5,2m x 5,2m, standing some 4 m high
when raised

No tent poles or frame exists-according to record destroyed during
the German occupation of 1940-1945.

No fiber identification has yet been carried out due to handling
problems--the tent is very large and stored in an external cold

The tent was formerly exhibited in 1988, some pictures from that
exhibition are available but no report on its condition are
available--the museum did not possess conservation personnel at the

The tent has some damage that I feel prohibits safe exhibition
before conservation treatment:

The outer top section's decorative bands' colors are quite faded and
most of them frayed but not yet damaged enough to actually fall off.
I attribute this to damage from light and heat during the period the
tent was used. The outer wall decorative bands also have frayed
segments, but these are not as damaged as the top bands. This damage
has, probably, been worsened by the last exhibition of the tent: the
tears and frays do not seem as drastic in the 1988 pictures as they
do now. The condition is not as yet critical, but I suspect the
stress of mounting the tent on a frame as part of an exhibition
might cause sections of the bands to fall off.

The inner tent top has a hole, probably caused by fungi. This damage
can also be seen in the 1988 photos, but not clearly: it is
uncertain whether it has been worsened by exhibition. Brown spots
due to biological fungi deterioration also appear on the upper outer
tent walls--likely the result of the tent having been packaged while
damp. I do not deem this deterioration to be active as of now.

The chandelier fastenings wooden parts are undamaged, but the silk
thread is tangled and damaged--threads fall off due to handling. The
reason for this is unknown as examination requires untangling the

The tent needs cleaning, but this is not critical. I assess the
following problems with exhibiting the tent without conservation

    1.  The top, and partly side, outer decorative bands, being
        frayed and damaged, need to be secured to the fabric before
        exhibition to avoid pieces falling off due to handling and
        the stress of mounting the tent on a frame. It seems like
        these bands were damaged due to the 1988 exhibition.

    2.  The biological deterioration on the canvas needs to be
        addressed by cleaning and temperature control in the
        exhibition. The museum does not have the capacity to
        regulate temperature properly in its exhibition locales.
        Thus cleaning and close monitoring during the exhibition
        seems to be necessary.

    3.  The chandelier fastenings textile parts must be untangled
        and the reason for their instability understood.

As a single conservator on a museum with no established conservation
department. I do not have the capacity to handle this object without
halting my primary function this year, that of producing a report on
the general condition of the museums' collection. My recommendation
therefore to the exhibition manager is to either not exhibit the
object or to secure outside expertise for conservation.
Opinions would be greatly appreciated,

Endre Fodstad
Object Conservator
The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:15
               Distributed: Wednesday, September 15, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-18-15-017
Received on Wednesday, 8 September, 2004

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