Wool Garment’s Treatment Status


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Time flies… the last blog update about the wool coat was April 30th of 2010!

Since then, a significant part of the garment’s conservation treatment was completed. The coat is now clean, dry and thoroughly documented!

Prior to freeze-drying, each one of the 138 pieces of wool were drawn for the record as well as to allow shrinkage monitoring during drying. Nothing shrank ( the prior tests suggested it would not shrink) and these drawings became an excellent tool to start working on this wool puzzle without manipulating the pieces. 

Below is the most updated version of the sketches:

Following is a photo of the four main coat panels in their current state:

Also, to give you an idea of the shape and condition of the garment when recovered, Tina found several excavation pictures and here are two of them (double click on the pictures to magnify them and see the garment better):


Now the next conservation step is to provide physical stability to the main pieces (still very fragile where torn) and allow the relative location of the multiple elements to be easily maintained. A backing material will be placed on the interior of the garment for these purposes.

Exhibit design options were also discussed in the past weeks. We explored ways of presenting the coat in the officers’ quarters of the Monitor Center. There will be a replica on a bust and viewing the real artifact in parallel will be stunning!

Realistically, the coat will not likely be on display for at least another year. As mentioned above, we are in the process of mounting the garment on a backing material for support. This involves building a costume sized work frame, finding the appropriate fabric and thread as well as a matching dye color for the fabric. And when this is figured out the pieces still need to be stitched on the support!

We also have another 1500+ objects in passive or active treatment in the lab (and that doesn’t include the small bits and parts of the engine and the condenser)… plenty to keep us all really busy in addition to projects like the coat!!

Hope everybody has a great week!

3 thoughts on “Wool Garment’s Treatment Status”

  1. Amazing job Lisa. I wonder whatever happened to the owner of this coat? A survivor? Does anything like this show up in the July photos, or is it a winter coat? In any case, whoever was wearing it, did not want to try to face the sea with it on.

    1. Thanks Fran. What happened to the owner of this coat is a question that’s always in mind when working on such personal item. Unfortunately, that will most likely remain unanswered.
      For the July 1862 pictures, nothing quite alike appears. The comparable coats have copper alloy buttons while this one had rubber ones (Goodyear).

  2. Thanks Elsa. Little did he know you would show such great care and concern for something he valued, but had to throw away.

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