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Problems in stabilizing historic iron-bladed weapons displayed in an uncontrolled environment in the Criminal Museum of Athens

ARGIROPOULOS, V., SAKKI, Z., KARYDAS, A.G., ZARKADAS, C., POULI, P.,
MELESSANAKI, K., GIAKOUMAKI, A., ANGLOS, D., GIANNOULAKI, M., 2005. Problems in
stabilizing historic iron-bladed weapons displayed in an uncontrolled
environment in the Criminal Museum of Athens, Greece, In: The Pre-prints
of the 14th Triennial Meeting, Vol I, p.293-300.

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A collection of bladed weapons from the Criminal Museum in Athens were
treated and then coated for display in an uncontrolled museum
environment. Over half of the coated iron alloy blades showed signs of
pinpoint rusting within two months of display. A conservation survey
was conducted in order to identify the causes of the pinpoint rusting,
but it could not identify the reasons behind the coating failure. The
authors tested a subset of 36 bladed weapons coated or uncoated, and
placed them in controlled and uncontrolled conditions. The test proved
that the best option was to leave the iron blades uncoated whether in
the wooden exhibit cases or Tupperware containers rather than coated
with Paraloid B-72/Renaissance wax or Hoppe's oil. The authors analyzed
the blades using semi-micro-x-ray fluorescence and laser-induced
breakdown spectroscopy to identify any salt contaminants on the bladed
surface and to measure the thickness of the coatings, respectively. The
results showed no surface contamination from salts. They developed a
methodology to measure coating thickness while providing simultaneous
analysis of the surface for contaminants.

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