Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Cleaning medals


DCLI
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have just bought a very nice set of medals. The 1914 Star appears to have been cleaned with something, there are traces of a light green residue, where a duster could not reach.

I know there are various schools of thought on medal cleaning but I am not trying to make them shine, just clean out the muck. I cannot remove the medal from the brooch, they are all sewn on.

Any ideas? Perhaps a toothbrush with soapy water?

regards

Anthony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Ian Bowbrick

No there is no definitive answer and a bone of contention amongst people here. IMHO do not use anything abrasive, use a soft clothe and lukearm soapy water.

Ian :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that - I can't believe (well I do really) that you have posted 4,226 threads. How long before you are a Field Marshal and have to retire to Chelmsford?

Anthony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Ian Bowbrick

After 4,226 threads I can honestly say that my embroidery is getting better, but I can't crochet as well as Teapots. :lol:

Ian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wire wool and silver dip; and if you can see the detail you just haven't finished. (Just joking)

Any cleaning removes a trace of the original metal. Anything abrasive or caustic should be avoided, it goes without saying, and whatever cleaning agent is used - even a gentle one - should be thoroughly washed off before drying in case it stains the medal.

Slightly off-topic, but I was wandering about the best solutions with which to clean WW2 campaign stars to remove traces of verdigris and other tarnishes (such as a cosmetic 'pitting' to the surface), yet without them losing their original 'golden' colour or giving them a bland appearance.

I would have thought soapy water and a very soft nylon brush and cloth?

Richard

Also, I noted in this months Medal News an advert/reference to a company selling lengths of ribbon under a pound, but cannot find it now that I need it - anyone know of this company?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anthony

Try a soft brush like a old tooth brush and warm water it should remove the green spots and should not polish the medal.

Best regards

N.S.Regt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have found tootpaste (applied with a toothbrush of course) works quite well to get some fo that green verdigris & other accumulated (over time) crud on WWII stars. Then a good wash in soap & water as others have suggested.

Saying that, I have a WWII RCN grp where the stars are very spottily corroded & have that green almost brown verdigris, that appears to be quite deep. I have tried toothpaste on the stars & managed to get some fo the crap off them, but found it was best to leave them 'as is', as some of it apears to penetrate quite deep into the metal.

Any body know what causes that verdigris to eat at the metal?

Thanks,

Bryan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is from www.conantcustombrass.com/brassbasics.html

Hope it helps. Phil B

Cleaning & Refinishing

- When removing any substance from the surface of brass, care must be taken not to scratch the brass. Never use abrasives like sandpaper, steel wool or wire wheels. Scratches in brass require a great deal of abrasive work to remove and blend.

- Caustic substances like salts and acids will etch the surface of brass resulting in pit marks that cannot be polished away by hand. Once etched, the only way to repair the surface is to level the pitted area. This typically requires powerful machinery and involves the removal of a fair amount of brass.

- Warm water with mild detergent and a toothbrush are good for removing encrusted polish that has been left for a long period of time.

- When employing a tool to remove foreign debris such as wax, the best material to use is wood or plastic. Never use an object harder than the brass itself to remove old lacquer, paint, wax, etc., and never use a tool on lacquered surfaces.

- To remove lacquer efficiently, paint strippers such as Zip Strip or 5f5 must be employed. This process should be done outdoors and the safety precautions on the label must be followed.

- Wax can be removed from some unlacquered brass pieces by immersing them in boiling water. Be sure that the piece can be drained and dried both inside and out before submerging it. (Water left standing in the hollow base of a candlestick or vase can slowly leak out and spoil the finish).

- If an unlacquered piece can't be submerged, first scrape all wax off with a wood or plastic tool and then use acetone or other solvent to remove the remainder. Acetone must be used outdoors in a well ventilated area and safety instructions must be followed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any body know what causes that verdigris to eat at the metal?

The Reaction of the impure moisture in the Air with the Bronze caused an Acidic reaction,thus causing Corrosion,basically the Metal is being eaten by Acid Solution formed from the atmosphere & the metal

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right, HB. It`s not the verdigris that`s eating into the metal, it`s the corrosive effect of atmospheric chemicals that produces the verdigris - a complex copper carbonate. Corrosion tends to occur where there is some impurity in the metal that promotes the chemical action. Unfortunately, it means that, if you remove the verdigris with a wood or plastic implement, you`re left with a pit. There is no way you can return the medal surface to its original condition. Phil B

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you one and all.

I think my Stars have encrusted polish - so I shall start with a toothbrush and warm water.

regards

Anthony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest John Sukey

I can't comment about brass, but I believe coin shops have a dip that removes the tarnish from silver.

Just curious, I have never seen verdigris on any of the stars I have, and I have a complete WW2 set, plus the Kabul to Kandahar star The Kehdive star and the WW1 stars. Is that a common occurence???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just curious, I have never seen verdigris on any of the stars I have, and I have a complete WW2 set, plus the Kabul to Kandahar star The Kehdive star and the WW1 stars. Is that a common occurence???

Providing that they have been kept in a dry stable atmosphere & dried thoroughly if they have ever got wet/damp then no,in fact it is more usual to find Medals & Badges in a Verdigris clear state,it usually only occurs if they have been stored;as some unfortunately were in the Damp garden shed/Tool box,or left damp after wearing in the rain,Many RN etc recipients had their Bronze Medals "Gilded" with gold plate to protect against salt erosion{& no doubt to cut down on :blink: polishing!}

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest John Sukey

Thanks for the information. Since we only get rain for two weeks at a time twice a year, I guess I don't have to worry. :D

Most of the verdigris I have encountered is when brass is in contact with leather, ie; slings, harness, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most of the verdigris I have encountered is when brass is in contact with leather, ie; slings, harness, etc.

A Different "Stable" envoironment!!,I expect the Leather Oils & retained Moisture{Mmm! Horse/Human sweat},cause the Verdigris in that case{From what I recall of my own Saddlery it tends to be a Greasy type of verdigis on that type of Article.Green as Malachite!! :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...