From the web site of the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia:
The American Battle Monuments Commission recently brought a soldier’s
memorial certificate from c. 1914-1919 to CCAHA for conservation
treatment. The 19” x 13” certificate, written largely in French, has
this handwritten inscription: “Charlie P. Monroe / Private, 13th
Battalion, Infantry Replacement & Training Camp.”
When the certificate was brought to CCAHA, it exhibited tears, edge
losses, and significant insect damage. There was overall discoloration
and a dark brown tideline along its bottom edge.
CCAHA Mellon Fellow Jacinta Johnson examined and treated the
certificate. To clean the object, Johnson used a unique technique: a
slant wash. Johnson placed the certificate on a sheet of wet capillary
matting, supported by a thick sheet of plastic, positioned at an angle.
The top edge of the capillary matting was sunk into a reservoir of
calcium bicarbonate solution to draw the solution through the object.
With this procedure, discoloration moved down and out of the object.
Like a blotter wash, this method is gentle and allows for washing
without immersing an object, which is sometimes preferable due to the
state of the paper. Unlike a blotter wash, however, which requires the
object to be moved from blotter to blotter as it washes, the slant wash
technique is self-rinsing and allows for less manipulation of the
object. The directional pull of the slant wash can also help address
stains, such as the tideline in this object, which was significantly
After washing the certificate, Johnson dried and pressed it between
felts. She filled losses with pulp fills and lined the object with
Japanese tissue paper to add support.
The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts specializes in the treatment of art and historic artifacts on
paper and provides preservation education, training, and consultation.
Established in 1977, CCAHA is one of the largest nonprofit conservation
facilities in the country. To visit the web site for the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts and view this article as a PDF, click here.