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My great grandfather, Charles H. Barton, served in the 11th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. I inherited the leather goods that he carried during the war. Among these are his cartridge box, cap box (complete with cap tin and some caps), and his belt and US buckle. I'm looking for some advice on how to keep these in relatively decent condition so I can pass them on to my children or grandchildren.

 

TIAA

 

OO

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Outrider Outlaw,

No offense to anyone here but if I were you I would contact a couple of different museums to see what they do to preserve leather like this. One wrong move and it could be lost. Perhaps museums specializing in the Civil Was era.

 

As an aside, I followed the well meaning advice of a man that told me how to preserve a very old leather knife sheath once. It didn't work and the leather broke down and the sheath became soft to the touch on the exterior but was brittle and it basically fell apart. Off the shelf leather restorer may not work for what you have or want to do.

 

Google "museum leather preservation" and perhaps contact some of the curators that your search brings up.

 

Good Luck to you.

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Thanks for the suggestion Pat Riot.

 

I did a Google search using your suggestion and found a very interesting discussion about this topic. One contributor made a comment that seems to me to be the most reasonable. In essence that contributor suggested that there really is nothing that can be done to really preserve the skin of a dead animal (leather) and any efforts to preserve it by artificial means will likely increase the rate of deterioration. The suggestion: do nothing other than try to keep it in a controlled environment with mild temperatures and low humidity.

 

On a side note, I wish I had also inherited the item that my brother was given--my great grandfather's 1854 Harper's Ferry musket complete with bayonet. His daughter has actually fired the musket after it was thoroughly gone over by a competent gunsmith.

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Howdy,

I would contact the Cody museum (I will never get that word spelled right).

Their info would be what I would believe.

I have some old leather baseball gloves.

I put on a light coat of Lexol and wipe it off and that's it.

Nowhere near as old as Civil War stuff.

Get several opinions first.

Its so easy to ruin something and that gear is real history.

I have heard old books have leather covers so libraries might be

a good place to check.

Post back what you find out please.

Best

CR

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IF the leather is still fairly pliable, then a LIGHT application of Lexol® Leather Conditioner may help. If the leather has become so dried out that the surface is flaking, there really isn't much you can do, except to NOT handle it too much. Some folks recommend Piccard, but IMHO it makes the leather greasy without really doing anything to restore its condition.

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Checking with museum curators is a good idea. Personally I would simply wipe down the leather gently with a very dilute solution of Woolite and water, followed by a wipe down with a damp rag. Then I would let it dry thoroughly.. I would follow that with a very light wipe-down with extra-virgin olive oil. Aside from that, I woul leave it alone.

Edited by Cat Brules, SASS #14086
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Several top museums used Pecard products.

I have used it for years. It is not a miracle maker but it works well. there is a point at which not much can really be done.

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IF the leather is still fairly pliable, then a LIGHT application of Lexol® Leather Conditioner may help. If the leather has become so dried out that the surface is flaking, there really isn't much you can do, except to NOT handle it too much. Some folks recommend Piccard, but IMHO it makes the leather greasy without really doing anything to restore its condition.

 

Trailfider is a leather maker and knows his stuff. His advice is worth $$$.

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