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Preserving leather


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#26 RustyCanteen

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 07:09 PM

I'll pin it for now,

I will add that I usually take the approach that it shouldn't be messed around with unless it's deteriorating, then it doesn't really matter to me what the longterm effects of the various products are on the leather since it would be gone anyway, at least it buys time.

Not saying it's the right way, but I can't see that it hurts any.

RC

#27 DSchlagan

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 08:43 PM

Thank you, RC.

Kind Regards,
Don.

#28 DontStartMeTalkin

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 11:44 AM

great thread some good info in here

#29 Kadet

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 04:36 AM

IMO, if you are talking about protecting/moisture-proofing modern leather for actual use...go for it. They are functional items. If talking about old, collectible leather items, DON'T put any of this stuff on ....period. None of these products "restore" aged leather (this is actually impossible). All they do is soak it to the point of being flexible again, and eventually damage the item. To me, there is no bigger turn off than a dark, greasy piece of militaria w/ treated leather. I won't have treated leather in my collection, and it is especially tragic when you see an A2 jacket, German helmet liner or other high end item slathered in these products. Keep the item in a stable, temperature controlled environment, and it will outlast you....


Edited by Kadet, 18 May 2013 - 04:40 AM.


#30 poch

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 11:45 AM

For dry leather I use pure linen oil. What do you think of it?



#31 Jeff TX

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 05:38 PM

Thanks for the discussion. I did not use the saddle soap and mink oil, i used a couple drops of dish soap in a half gallone of warm water ant the leather looks great!

#32 Garandomatic

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 07:35 PM

I have a few sets of WWI boots... riding, trench, and one lonely marching shoe.  These were in a trunk since the Great War... The riding boots could clean up with damp cloth, I imagine, but the trench boots are a bit misshapen, possibly mildewed.  The marching shoe would probably just benefit from a damp cloth... What should I do with the trench boots?  As they are, if I do nothing, I can't help but think they'll deteriorate more... Would the Lanolin be a good candidate for these to get them in some sort of shape after cleaning?  It seems most of the discussion here is for very nice pieces, and unissued these most definitely are not...

 

At the very least, I did not buy Pecard's!



#33 Garandomatic

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 09:27 AM

Damp cloth and a little soap did absolute wonders. I doubt they will need anything else.



#34 costa

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Posted 09 April 2015 - 12:35 PM

BEST THING TO DO--- LEAVE IT ALONE.--- METAL IS ONE THING-- GUNS THAT IS BUT, LEATHER - IN THE LONG RUN YOU DONT KNOW WHAT A MAN MADE PRODUCT WILL DO LATER ON.



#35 costa

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 05:47 PM

ok guys--- no matter what you do, age and time will take its toll. yes you can prolong the life of leather, paper, rubber and cloth but, in the long run it will change mostly on its own. paper yellows and fades, gets brittle, the same for pictures. the right storage conditions help but, the materials used back then ww1-2 wasn't the best and it does self destruct. even cloth items over time weaken and so many elements in the area of the collection has its affects. those who are for say collectors of metal items--- wings, guns, edged weapons, ordnance, helmets have it much easier to manage and care for. how many of us only collect metal items?? most have a bit of everything and the bigger the collection the more worries one faces. you can only do so much but, no one can devote all that time and effort every day. I check my items here and there and lucky to say all seems to be fine for what I can see although things may be going on that I don't see. enjoy what you have and try not to drive yourselves nuts over some things you cant stop completely.



#36 Sgt. Swigart

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Posted 25 May 2015 - 05:55 AM

This is 100% inaccurate and false. The Smithsonian and National Park Service have totally rejected the use of any treatment to leather with any product. This was covered, in depth, in Military Trader articles in 2008.

John A-G

 

Yes for best preservation controlling the climate is going to far more good and less harm than any product. As long an item is NOT going to be used or handled, exposed to heat ect. applying nothing is going to be the best policy. 


Edited by Shenkursk, 26 May 2015 - 03:57 PM.


#37 aznation

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Posted 25 May 2015 - 11:58 AM

Some really good information about preservation of leather.  Thanks...



#38 Shakethetrees

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 08:48 PM

Someone with a lot of preservation experience with organic materials put it this way to me years ago:

The remaining skin of the donor animal, no matter what we do, is in a hurry to rejoin its source. The more proactive we are, the more we help it along.

I have been been doing metals conservation and restoration (this last word is now a dirty word in museum circles) for over thirty years. As a collector of militaria for at least fifty years, the leather question has fascinated me.

I had an initial phase where I used Lexol with disastrous results! Next I moved to a despicibally snotty substance called Black Rock, which looked good at first, but long term, NO.

Pecard's, Neats foot Oil, plain Vaseline, and a few others were experimented with, but, long and short, I wouldn't use any of them.

One wax that seems to have some promise is Renaissance Wax, very lightly applied and only for special situations. It's definitely not a cure all. Judiciously used with trials before diving in.

I finally realized storage and handling are the keys to the successful leather custodianship. Just as Jeff (Shenkurk ((sp.?)) wrote on the previous page, leave it alone no matter the urge you may have to "just do something!"

And, as we all have experienced, once a condition known as "red rot" has set in, it's over. Dry, powdery, and brittle. Anything applied in desperation will cause the object to deteriorate in your hands as you are applying the "miracle cure". Keep it in a box and hope for the best, all its trying to do is to rejoin its original host in oblivion.

#39 skautdog

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 05:57 AM

I've read this series several times. This topic seems to have either no answer or as many answers as one wants to have. I wish there were ONE definitive answer to protecting leather. Protecting leather is is one area of collecting that truly concerns me.

Ken



#40 Shakethetrees

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 07:50 AM

I've read this series several times. This topic seems to have either no answer or as many answers as one wants to have. I wish there were ONE definitive answer to protecting leather. Protecting leather is is one area of collecting that truly concerns me.
Ken


That's one of the problems. Leather, as an organic material, is in a continuous state of decline from the time it's removed from the animal. The initial tanning process delays this slow march to destruction, but subsequent conditions and treatment can either accelerate or somewhat delay this, but, let's be clear here, it will turn to dust at some point.

There are an infinite set of conditions that determine how long leather will last. The trick for custodians of leather goods is to not do anything unintentionally hasten the process.

Handling and display are absolutely critical to long term existence.

For all you experienced collectors, remember the time when, even with the best of intentions, you're buckling or unbuckling something, adjusting a chinstrap slide or rifle sling, and all of a sudden, SNAP! The strap breaks. That rushing upwelling of !STUPID! Is unforgettable. Learn from it, and how to avoid doing it again. Some of us (sad to say, myself included) are slow learners. Hopefully the cost of tuition is with the less important bits, some easily replaced.

Sorry, I know we all want to play with our toys, but, with leather this is a unique problem. We go to great lengths and expense to find the piece of our dreams, but, I order to maintain our little link to history, (and our investment, I might add,), we have to be disciplined and follow the rules. Hands off unless absolutely necessary.

A one size fits all approach will without a doubt, lead to disaster.

But, to all you new collectors, do not take my word for this. Go ahead and glop on whatever miracle cure you think will be the panacea. Then play with it till you get tired and fall asleep.

I would bet anyone willing to take me up on it a good item from my collection that this is how it will all go.

Bottom line is that there is no one answer that works.

The next best thing: Do nothing!

Experienced collectors and dealers in this thread know from years of experience and communication with top museum professionals what works best.


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