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Subject: Historic food collections

Historic food collections

From: Fiona Cahill <f.cahill>
Date: Friday, May 4, 2007
We are a team of conservators working at Scott Base in the Antarctic
on artifacts (predominately food) from Shackleton's Nimrod
expedition hut (1908). We have recently started to conserve a number
of sealed glass bottles containing both vegetables (e.g. onions and
midget gherkins) and fruit such as cherries and redcurrants. The
majority of the bottles are in very good condition with no visible
mould growth. We want to keep the visual integrity of the contents
as they have retained their original form and colour. The bottles
are sealed with a layer of thin leather, a cork stopper and a wax
seal covered with lead sheet.

The literature on the conservation of food collections appears to be
pretty sparse. Our research tools are restricted to the Internet
(due to our location). Any information would be useful, but our main
area of interest is the evaporation of fluid over time from the
jars.  We would prefer to keep the contents in the jars rather than
disposing of them. We understand that topping up and rehydration of
specimens occurs in spirit collections, but has this ever been
applied to food? Any information or feedback would be great.
Additional information about the project can be found as a blog on
the Natural History Museum (UK) website


Fiona Cahill
Conservator, Antarctic Heritage Trust
Scott Base, Antarctica

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:3
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 10, 2007
                        Message Id: cdl-21-3-019
Received on Friday, 4 May, 2007

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