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



6 DETERIORATION OF GLASS CHANDELIERS

Two hundred years or so after their manufacture, most chandeliers need work. Except for damage, the glass should be as sound as when it was made. The metal surfaces will have oxidized or discolored over time and may need attention. The deterioration of the metal is usually not sufficient to cause problems except in the case of the pins that join the drops into chains of dressings. Plaster of Paris or other fixatives that hold metal fittings to glass parts may have weakened or deteriorated and might require attention. If the passage of time alone were the problem, restoration would be a simple question of replacing pins and, perhaps, the plaster. But most chandeliers have had a difficult life, suffering accidents during handling, cleaning, and dressing refits as well as accidents with ladders. Still, in most cases, restoration can be restricted to resetting the mounts whose plaster has deteriorated and overhauling the pinning and organization of the dressings of drops.

Many chandeliers are not installed properly and will need to be reinstalled. The chain that holds the chandelier must be made with steel or brass closed-link chain and should be adequate to hold more than the full weight of the chandelier. The ceiling hook should be securely fixed in such a manner that complete rotation of the chandelier cannot unscrew the hook or disturb its connection to the ceiling. For very high installations, a purpose-built winch with reduction gear and locking capabilities is desirable. It is best to have a qualified structural engineer determine the best method to fix the hook to the structure of the building. In the mid-18th century, chandeliers were often hung on counterpoises from a fixed hook. As the chandelier was drawn down by grasping the finial (screwed firmly to the bottom of the rod, as it would have been then), compensating counterweights rose up the chain.


Copyright 1998 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works