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Conservation cleaning – Frank Green’s riding whip

Imagine the delight of Treasurer’s House staff and volunteers when Frank Green’s riding whip turned up in an antique shop! It was clear that this was Frank’s whip because it had his name and the name Treasurer’s House inscribed in the metalwork. The whip was quickly purchased and is now on display in the house.

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– A section of the metalwork where the name “Frank Green” is partially visible.

Frank Green of Treasurer’s house was the man behind the unusual National Trust building we know and love today. He was an eccentric man, prone to OCD tendencies particularly when he placed studs in the floor outlining where the furniture whould be placed!!

He was a keen rider and one of the founding members of the – now inactive – York and Ainsty Hunt. In the collection of Treasurer’s house are many of his prized possessions relating to hunting, such as his riding jacket, riding boots and a certificate commemorating his work for the York and Ainsty Hunt.

The riding whip sits in its own case in the South Dressing room beneath a portrait of Frank wearing ‘riding pink’, the jacket he would have worn while out on the hunt – which is still in the possession of the National Trust.

For this reason the item does not get very dusty and requires only an annual clean. This is done in order to preserve the inscription on the metal and so as not to damage the fragile leather. Over dusting and cleaning of both metal and leather can have a detrimental effect making the inscription illedgible and the leather worn. As can be seen however the metalwork with the inscription has oxidised quite severely and looks blotchy and speckly in appearance.

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– The image above shows a section of the metal work which has been partially cleaned. The shiny surface is returning a the bottom of the metal, while at the top it is still rather blotchy and oxidised. The words “Treasurer’s York” are visibly inscribed.

To clean the leather of the riding whip I used a soft brush made (ironically) out of pony hair and collected the dust with a conservation vacuum on a low suction setting. To clean the metal I used a substance called Peek which is a type of polish specifically designed for metals, and unsurpassed in its ability to deoxidise and restore items to a shiny appearance. Finally I applied Renaissance Micro-Crystalline wax which preserves the metal and is approved by museums and conservators for use on antiques, most notably by National Trust and by the British Museum.

The whip can now go back into its case for another year, until its next clean!

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Published in Artefact Conservation Leather Metalwork