Development of a conservation strategy for a collection of military uniforms

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The development of a conservation strategy to prolong the
useful lifetime of a collection of waterproofed military uniforms
dating from 1880 to 1960 is described. Waterproofing agents
present at the surfaces of each costume were identified,
mainly using attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform
infrared spectroscopy, as: drying oils from plant and fish
sources, bitumen, natural rubber and plasticised polyvinyl
chloride (PVC). Despite the fact that most uniforms had never
been worn, many exhibited extensive deterioration: oiltreated
uniforms were tacky due to incomplete oxidation
either because of incomplete preparation of the oils or
excessive thickness of application. Bitumen-waterproofing
was tacky because it had depolymerised during exposure to
light. By changing the storage environment to one of stable
moderate temperature and relative humidity, it is suggested
that the deterioration of the waterproofing materials would
be slowed to some extent. Uniforms treated with oils or
bitumen also require external covers to isolate their tacky
surfaces, and internal support to maintain their shape. Tests
suggested that uniforms treated with oils could be supported
by silicone paper or polyethylene-based films; suitable
covering materials were polyethylene and Cryovac®
BDF-200® . Uniforms treated with bitumen could be supported
by polyethylene film and covered by polyethylene, Melinex®
or Cryovac BDF-200. Natural rubber-treated uniforms had
oxidised, developing cracks and crazes: oxygen-free storage
is recommended. Uniforms waterproofed with plasticised
PVC exhibited slight tackiness due to migration of plasticiser.
Sider (fra-til)57-65
StatusUdgivet - 2004