Jump to content

DarrenElliot's Blog

Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    15
  • comments
    26
  • views
    23,291

The Clue Is In The Glue..!

DE&i

1,678 views

I managed a few hours voluntary work at the Museum of Peterborough today. Remounting Belemnites such as these Hibolithes. They were donated to the museum in the year 1913 and I guess after a lot of man handling over the years a few of them had detached themselves from there display card.

blogentry-13364-0-66945000-1417531436.jpg

So I got to work reattaching them to the card with my trusty B72 restoration adhesive.

That’s when the thought crossed my mind…..what glue did the curators use to attach them to this card all those years ago.

Would anyone have any suggestions?

Regards,

Darren.



3 Comments


Recommended Comments

Hi Darren

There’s a huge range of possibles, but the most common consolidant/adhesive used by museums for fossils from the 1850’s through to the early half of the 1900’s was shellac (a scale insect secretion scraped from the bark of trees on which they feed), usually dissolved in ethanol . It was also widely used for card-mounting of dried insects, arthropods and botanical specimens in museums, so for small items like those belemnites then that would be my guess.

It fell out of favour because over time it yellows, becomes brittle, attracts dust and ultimately cross-links to an insoluble material that is then difficult to remove with solvents.

If needs be, you could confirm that (or otherwise) with a UV light source. It has a characteristic orange fluorescence.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Hi Darren

There’s a huge range of possibles, but the most common consolidant/adhesive used by museums for fossils from the 1850’s through to the early half of the 1900’s was shellac (a scale insect secretion scraped from the bark of trees on which they feed), usually dissolved in ethanol . It was also widely used for card-mounting of dried insects, arthropods and botanical specimens in museums, so for small items like those belemnites then that would be my guess.

It fell out of favour because over time it yellows, becomes brittle, attracts dust and ultimately cross-links to an insoluble material that is then difficult to remove with solvents.

If needs be, you could confirm that (or otherwise) with a UV light source. It has a characteristic orange fluorescence.

Truly fascinating I’ll take my newly found information next time I’m at the museum with me. It’s funny really when we were having a tea break in the museums canteen. The older members amongst us joked and told of tales about when their parents made soup out of old fish bones.

“Waste not want not…we can re-boil those bones to make glue”

Share this comment


Link to comment

Hi Darren,

Whilst shellac is very likely, I have indeed come across old specimens glued with hide or bone glue and I still use it myself for musical instruments.

It remains water soluble (although there are treatments to make it waterproof - such as adding alum I think) and is easy to remove if the glued item won't suffer from a bit of water.

Share this comment


Link to comment
×