[Bell Historians] Re: Restoring Peal Boards

Frank King Frank.King at uPT_xPDfQ6DRMCNwA_7uRe6AzzUviXzuXKXLC0CeILxyLdu4Os8p2yPWLPjoQAeWYVTPDTPDf0Dhlfmj3_KlFQ.yahoo.invalid
Mon Apr 2 08:39:50 BST 2007

Dear Dickon

I share your views here...

> You want a careful conservator to remove the varnish...

> It will take a long long time...

... but your comment in the middle is not quite true...

> If it is gold leaf, it will look good as new.

As a sometime student of Materials Science you may
remember the term 'surface energy' (then again you may
not!) and the natural tendency of materials to reduce

Gold doesn't like being in leaf form and over a very
long period it tends to ball up.  A ringing room with
a collection of peal boards dating back 200 or 300
years can be most instructive.  For the first 100
years there is almost no change but after 200 years
you can see the effect quite clearly.  Be careful not
to mistake crinkly varnish for this effect.

The balling up seems to be accentuated by being out
in the open.  If you look at gold leaf in medieval
manuscripts all you can detect is a slight crazing
on the surface.

In short, gold leaf lasts a very long time but old
gold leaf isn't quite as 'good as new'.

Also, by observation, the lettering on old peal boards
very often IS gold leaf rather than paint.  Someone on
this list may have made a proper study but in Great
S. Mary's, only two of the 25 peal boards have lettering
that is not gold leaf.  Both the painted ones are very
modern [post-war!].



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