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Q: Preserving WW1 items, medals and headgear

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I'm shifting my focus on preserving WW1 items, mainly medals and headgear. I am trying to collect these items so as the years go by some type of example is in good hands as they slowly dwindle away.


I am mostly asking this in regards to keeping the ribbons, cloth, and metal from deterriorating as much as possible.


What is a good way of keeping these safe?

Are there certain display cases/frames that are suitable for displaying AND protecting?


Any other tips?




- Nick


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  • 4 years later...

I think that anyone that you talk to is going to recommend RIKER mounts or other glass-front display cases. You need to ensure that the medals never touch any foam material as these synthetic materials break down over time and will eat the finish on the metal portion of the medals causing chemical reactions which result in pitting the medal. Also, once these chemical reaction has started, the reaction will eventually affect the ribbons.


As for ribbons, the WWI vintage pieces are now close to 100 years old. Never pin them to a uniform or material and allow the pendant to hang off of the ribbon drape. The ribbon will eventually fail from the weight. This is especially true with the larger WWI Victory medal pendant and Purple Hearts as they are quite a bit heavier than many of the other medals.


The last thing you need to be aware of is that light will fade ribbons, and too much or too little humidity will also have negative effects on the items you're dealing with. I recommend that the your medals are stored flat and put inside a drawer to keep them from light exposure. Feel free to bring them out when you want to study them or share them with another collector, but don't just let them sit in a frame on the way.



Never under-estimate the power of prayer.



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  • 3 months later...

I have a number of Riker cases for my medal collection.

Is it safe to have medals lay on a piece of felt or other cloth rather than on the white batting that comes with the Riker case?

Obviously, no foam rubber. Are any types of cloth better or worse than others.

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  • 5 weeks later...

does anyone have any tips on how to rig up or make it so you could hang your medals on tunics but provide the needed support the weight and not tear the ribbon?

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I have seen several different methods--I am not in favor of any of them.


Silk, and the dyes used in ribbons both decompose over time. All you can really do is retard the deterioration. The absolute best way to preserve antique medals is to lay them flat and keep them in the dark. If possible, limiting atmospheric exchange (placing them in archival envelopes or a Riker-type mount will also help slow the decay.


If you insist on displaying 100 year old medals hanging on uniforms, I have seen two methods that when carefully and correctly executed, showed moderate success. I note though that this is at your own risk and I do not guarantee positive results.


1) Purchase "jewelry U-pins." These are a sort of U-shaped pin you can carefully use to support the planchet so that it is not putting stress on the ribbon drape.


2) Use fishing line passed through the metal ring and the brooch--being careful to tie it off in such a way as to have the weight of the medal resting on the fishing line and not the ribbon.


Even though I have seen the above done successfully, I still don't recommend either one.


Good luck.




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