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  #1  
Old 29-02-08, 01:36 AM
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Default Cleaning badges

This topic is actually two questions. The first, should badges be cleaned? And second, if the decision to clean is taken, what are the best techniques to use? There are lots of methods, what are some of them? And, what are the pros and cons of the technique?
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Old 29-02-08, 05:51 AM
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Always an interesting topic and my blanket policy is they have done their job leave them alone. But there is one exception and that is where they have developed verdigris which causes a perminant stain if not vigourously removed. Which demands the question how. I use CLR whic is neutral on a swab and then further neutralize with warm warm water and dry with blower.
Should be a good thread
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Old 29-02-08, 07:43 AM
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I agree with Paul, this should be a good discussion. I tend to gently clean my badges of all the crud that builds up in all the nooks and crannies. Ist thing I do is warm soap and water to soften up the gook then a gental scub with a soft toothbrush.

I might also us a squirt of Windex window cleaner with amonia. This cleans off the oils, cuts through nicotin, dirt and brightens the gilt w/o affecting the finish. That's it for me. My father maintains that in real life most badges were meant to be bright so he slightly polishes his badges It drives me crazy, and I don't leave ANYTHING with Pops as it's lible to be nice and shiney if I'm not attentive. Now he doesn't use brasso or any abrasives or anything like that, he favours a dash of Windex with ammonia then a swipe with Never Dull cotton cleaner.

We've agreed to disagree and I've asked that all the really rare officers material be left alone so that when I inheirit it (hopefully a long time form now) it wont be damaged. He's agreed but it costs me a bottle of single malt each time he visits

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  #4  
Old 29-02-08, 04:34 PM
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I'd like to step in here, as I work in conservation of museum objects (not metals), but collect badges, and have access to conservators and conservation scientists. One of my colleagues, who specialises in metals research advises against the use of any commercial products, since they tend to contain either ammonia or a weak acid (acetic acid). All of these products will cause corrosion and/or pitting. In some cases, with brass, they will actually strip off the zinc, what is referred to as "dezincification", leaving the copper underneath. Then you are left with a pinkish colour. As my colleague points out in response to a friend of mine asking about the cleaning of a badge that had been dug up and had all sorts of crud on it,

"Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The pink colour on the brass badge is probably from dezincification. Dezincification means loss of zinc. It is possible that the dezincification happened during burial when the corrosion process resulted in the selective removal of the zinc which leaves behind copper. Relatively pure copper is pink - like the colour of a new penny. It is also possible that the dezincification has been caused during cleaning if the brass was cleaned with an acid (usually a weak acid). The acid can selectively dissolve the zinc from the surface.

I do not know how to reverse the process of dezincification.

Calcium deposits can be removed with acids, but in this case, I would not recommend using an acid, given that you could further damage the brass by dissolving even more zinc."

The only safe product recommended is precipitated chalk. There is an article on the US National Park Service website on Caring for Silver and Copper Alloy Objects which might be of interest to everyone:

http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/pu.../cons_toc.html

Scroll down to Metals and click on 10/2. All the articles are in pdf.

Of course, it goes without saying, that anodised aluminum (or aluminium to you Brits), otherwise known as 'Staybrite', should never be cleaned.

If you have access to a conservator at your local museum, you should contact them for further advice.

I would agree with other here on the site, that unless it's absolutely necessary, I would leave them alone. It removes the patina and destroys the overall integrity of the item.
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  #5  
Old 29-02-08, 04:45 PM
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Further to my last post, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) here in Ottawa has a series of 'CCI Notes' on their website:

http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/publication...s/index_e.aspx

A sample one is on cleaning silver tarnish. Other notes relating to metals are available, but you have to create an e-services account (see instructions on the website). The service is free.The Notes are available in English, French and Spanish. Others in the metals series of interest are:

9/1 Recognizing Active Corrosion
9/2 Storage of Metals
9/3 The Cleaning, Polishing and Protective Waxing of Brass and Copper
9/4 Basic Care of Coins, Medals and Medallic Art
9/7 Silver - Care and Tarnish Removal
9/9 Care of Objects Made of Zinc

The latter would be of interest to anyone having white metal (zinc) badges in their collection.

There are also Notes on textiles for all you uniform collectors out there.
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Old 29-02-08, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tremain View Post
9/9 Care of Objects Made of Zinc

The latter would be of interest to anyone having white metal (zinc) badges in their collection.

There are also Notes on textiles for all you uniform collectors out there.

well part of it (whitemetal) is zinc anyway.

linaker and dine reproduce some extracts from the Bent and Parker quotation book 1903-16, giving the composition of "German silver". (the term "white metal" for this alloy did not start to become popular until post 1906.)

anyway:
Whitemetal (German silver): 64.5 % copper, 16.5% Zinc, 19.0% Nickel.

and,
Gilding metal : 86.7% Copper, 13.3% Zinc , nil Nickel.

PS
gilding metal as you have guessed is particularly suitable for gilding, and the army used it as a replacement for brass from 1896. I know many collectors use "brass" and "gilding metal" interchangeably, but they are two different things as far as metal insignia are concerned, even the army says so. Although gilding metal is a variety of brass just to confuse things. (apparenty the document relating to this change survives in the national archives PRO WO 359/6 page 336)



sorry to wander off topic here - maybe we should have a metals thread
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Last edited by Mike; 29-02-08 at 07:09 PM. Reason: add a bit more
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  #7  
Old 10-03-08, 04:04 PM
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Default Verdis gris

What are the methods for cleaning verdis gris?
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Old 10-03-08, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
What are the methods for cleaning verdis gris?
Put some luke warm water with a touch of washing up liquid in a bowl. Slightly dampen a cotton cloth and give it a little rub.

For stubborn spots sharpen the end of a match stick and use the point to scratch the surface. Wood we all know is a softer material than metal so this will not damage the surface of the badge.

And the most important final step is to go out into the back and shoot yourself because you were silly enough to store your badges in plastic wallets or riker mounts.

As a rule I dont clean badges. Good old fashioned tarnish and belimishes cannot be faked through any known chemical process. All this business with sulpher, bleach and shoving them in ovens will never produce that natural look.
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Old 10-03-08, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
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What are the methods for cleaning verdis gris?

And acetic acid - household vinegar works- tried and tested by myself several times. The problem is it will also remove the normal metal patina as well, so dipping is not a good idea unless the badge is a basket case anyway .
Last time I treated a patch by applying a droplet to the verdigris only with a kid's paintbrush - might have to dab it on a few times to stop it drying out time it's reacting. The just brush it off with an old toothbrush under running water.
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Old 10-03-08, 08:16 PM
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W.D 40 is excellent and won't harm the rest of the badge.
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  #11  
Old 10-03-08, 09:37 PM
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W.D 40 is excellent and won't harm the rest of the badge.

thanks for that 41st, thats sure to be a superior method, will give it a try next time.
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  #12  
Old 27-04-08, 01:26 PM
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Default Cleaning off Varnish!

Hi all.... after some advice....
Just got an old Bays badge which is genuine but sometime in it's past someone cleaned it and then varnished it.... I want to get the old varnish off which has formed transparent 'windows' in the some of the voids of the badge... Any ideas?
Howard
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  #13  
Old 27-04-08, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardiffbloke View Post
Hi all.... after some advice....
Just got an old Bays badge which is genuine but sometime in it's past someone cleaned it and then varnished it.... I want to get the old varnish off which has formed transparent 'windows' in the some of the voids of the badge... Any ideas?
Howard
Howard, tricky one. If the badge was polished immediatley prior to it being varnished then there is no patina to lose. Paint stripper gel carefully applied to the areas that have been varnished. If the badge still had its patina intact when it was varnished, the paint stripper might remove this as well. Another method if this is the case is to slowly nibble away the varnish with a sharp implement such as a scalpel or a large, sharp sewing needle. Must be careful not to nick the badge though.
Hope this helps, Dave
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  #14  
Old 27-04-08, 01:43 PM
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I always leave my badges in a 'as found state'. The fact that some badges are varnished gives the badge history, over time you may discover more varnished badges from this unit, the varnish thus becomes a mark of athenticity and you may well regret removing it.
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  #15  
Old 27-04-08, 02:34 PM
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I always use nail polish remover and a gentle rub with a rag. Not too much and it does the trick without stripping way too much patina that can occur with more abrasive products.



Alan
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