A PERSPECTIVE ON THE HISTORY OF THE CONSERVATION OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL COPPER ALLOYS IN THE UNITED STATES
ABSTRACT—This paper reviews the history of the treatment of archaeological copper alloys (bronzes) in the United States using unpublished reports and correspondence in the files of the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, personal interviews, and early and selected later publications. Correspondence around the turn of the century documents a concern about the devastating effects of “bronze disease” and traces the early history of the understanding of its causes and methods for combating it. Early publications by Fink and Eldridge (1923, 1925), Garland and Bannister (1927), Nichols (1930), Lucas (1932), Plenderleith (1934, 1956), and Ternbach (1949) demonstrate the development and use of cleaning techniques for severely corroded bronzes. The role that advances in analytical techniques and scientific instrumentation played in the evolution of approach and philosophy for treatment of archaeological bronzes is discussed. A major effect cited is that the goal of treatment for archaeological bronzes has changed from attempting to return an artifact as closely as possible to its original form to preserving the patina and burial accretions for research and study.
2. A HISTORICAL REVIEW
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