Jade Dagger

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Jade dagger before conservation


When this Shang Dynasty Dagger came into the object conservation lab, there were some obvious issues that needed addressing! With a beautiful blade of polished jade, it had a copper alloy handle with an intricate design made from turquoise.

Not only had the handle broken away from the blade, but where the metal had corroded it obscured details of the turquoise design. More breaks could be seen along the blade and there was evidence of discoloured adhesive from old repairs. After discussion with the client, the primary aims in this project were twofold: improving the aesthetic appearance of the dagger, by repairing the break, and stabilising the dagger to prevent further corrosion.

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Detail from the dagger before and after cleaning and repair

Old adhesive was removed to improve the appearance of the dagger and help create a stronger bond when the new repair was carried out. Some of the corrosion around the turquoise inlay was removed using a scalpel – this was done under a microscope prevent any damage being done to either the metal or the stone design.

After the dagger had been cleaned up, it was time to reattach the two pieces. Once they had been adhered together, a coloured fill was used to help strengthen the join while also making the repair less visible.

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A fill was used along the repair site


Finally, with the dagger clean and whole again, a protective coating was applied to the metal areas to protect them against corrosion in the future.
As the finishing touch the dagger was repackaged in an archivally stable materials, with a custom support to cushion it.

The client was very happy with the work done on the dagger. The aesthetic appearance had been greatly improved, with old repairs made less obvious, cleaning of the turquoise and the new repair bringing together the two halves. The dagger has also been made much more stable for the future with the new box and the coating applied to the metal.

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Dagger after conservation

 

Thomas Wicks, Conservator (Objects)

 

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