THE CONSERVATION OF AMERICAN WAR MEMORIALS MADE OF ZINC
CAROL A. GRISSOM, & RONALD S. HARVEY
ABSTRACT—Affordable war memorials featuring soldiers made of zinc were purchased by small towns throughout the United States following the Civil War, and the practice continued to a lesser extent after the Spanish-American and First World Wars. Such memorials can be generally divided into three groups defined by fabrication techniques: (1) imitation bronze statues sand-cast in pieces, assembled by soldering, painted with “bronze” paint, and placed on masonry pedestals or cast-iron fountains; (2) so-called white-bronze statues assembled using molten zinc to back unobtrusively located joins between sand-cast pieces, sandblasted to appear stonelike, and displayed on masonry pedestals or multilayered white-bronze bases that in some cases created enormous monuments made entirely of zinc; and (3) statues stamped from sheet zinc in sections, which were soldered or riveted together on metal armatures and painted. The most common zinc statue damage is breakage of the brittle cast metal. Difficult problems are presented by large white-bronze monuments, which are often distorted by the metal's tendency to creep. Even more damage has been caused by ill-informed attempts at amelioration, especially filling interiors with concrete instead of installing stainless steel internal supports. Appropriate surface treatments are emphasized.
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