JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 2, Article 1 (pp. 149 to 172)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 2, Article 1 (pp. 149 to 172)

THE CARE AND CONSERVATION OF GLASS CHANDELIERS

JULIE A. REILLY, & MARTIN MORTIMER



4 EXAMINING CHANDELIERS


4.1 A HANGING CHANDELIER

It is typical to examine a hanging chandelier from a ladder. Furniture and other objects should be removed so that they are protected from the movement of the ladder and from falling chandelier parts that may be loosened during examination. Also useful for an in situ examination on a ladder are an ultraviolet light and a tape recorder for recording notes while standing on the ladder. UV light, of both short and long wavelength, can be used to locate pieces of glass made of differing glass formulations and can often be used to indicate which pieces have been added or substituted on a chandelier. While examining a chandelier, it is best not to rotate the chandelier for access to the opposite arms. Many chandeliers are not hung from a shackle capable of rotating freely. Some hanging fixtures may actually become unscrewed during rotation, with unfortunate results. Take extra care with chandeliers and lighting devices that have been electrified. Substandard or subcode wiring is common. Wear and use often loosen electrical connections and lead to electrical shorts and fires.

Good photographs and sketches should be prepared for chandeliers. They can prove invaluable during later research, writing, study, or comparisons of related pieces. They are essential for careful reassembly of chandeliers.


4.2 A DISASSEMBLED CHANDELIER

When a chandelier is already disassembled, as may be the case for objects not currently on display or objects that have recently been shipped, examination is somewhat different. The order or sequence of the stem-pieces, for example, is not evident and may need to be hypothesized. Studying the edges of pieces that could potentially adjoin might be helpful. One must mentally assemble the chandelier to determine whether all the major pieces are present. UV light can be used to help separate parts of differing glass composition. Sketches are helpful. Surfaces and details that are normally not accessible for examination on a hanging chandelier can be examined and documented more thoroughly on disassembled pieces. On stem-pieces, scratched numbers or letters that may guide the order of assembly may be visible, although they may relate, confusingly, to their position in the shaft of an entirely different chandelier if the pieces have been taken from different objects.


Copyright 1998 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works