JAIC 1993, Volume 32, Number 3, Article 1 (pp. 213 to 230)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1993, Volume 32, Number 3, Article 1 (pp. 213 to 230)

BALEEN IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS: ITS SOURCES, USES, AND IDENTIFICATION

JULIE A. LAUFFENBURGER


ABSTRACT—An investigation of baleen was initiated in order to identify an unknown material used to wrap Japanese sword hilts in the collection of the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. This paper focuses on the sources, structure, identification, and working properties of baleen and compares it to horn and other similar materials. Primary uses of baleen are described as they pertain to Inuit, early European and American, and Japanese cultures. Methods used to identify the unknown material are described, and the difficulty of distinguishing between horn and baleen is illustrated. The condition of baleen artifacts and factors that contribute to their state of preservation are discussed. The paper concludes with various conservation techniques used to repair baleen artifacts in addition to those that make use of its strength and flexibility as a repair material.

Article Sections:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. BALEEN AND ITS SOURCES
3. HISTORIC USES OF BALEEN
4. BALEEN IN THE COLLECTION OF THE WALTERS ART GALLERY
5. IDENTIFICATION OF BALEEN
6. CONSERVATION OF BALEEN
7. CONCLUSIONS
a: References , Author Information
Entire Article

Copyright 1993 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works