Category Archives: Objects

Wide Awakes’ Campaign Transparency

A rare Campaign Transparency from 1860 is constructed of a wooden box frame and covered with printed cotton fabric on two sides. This artifact, is from the collections of the Columbia County Historical Society, was made for and used by the Chatham branch of the Wide Awakes at political rallies. It retains is original pole and metal braces. Follow the treatment on Facebook. This unique artifact will be on display in their up-coming Civil War exhibition, “Civil War Panorama, Columbia County 1860-1865”, which opened in July of 2012. More on the project can also be found in our blog Inside the Conservator’s Studio.

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An oil lamp would have been secured in place on the base inside the fabric box. Ghost marks survive and nail holes are present at the center of the wooden base.


The two lost sides of the transparency are going to be compensated with new cotton fabric in a color that blends. Diane Schewchuk, curator came to assist with the selection of the fabric. A protective cover was constructed to be used for storage.


The Wide Awake transparency was on display at the Columbia County Historical Society in their Civil War exhibition, “A Civil War Panorama, Columbia County 1860-1865”. 


Read more about Object Conservation at Spicer Art Conservation.

Epaulettes & Storage Box

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It is not often found a set of epaulettes with their original box. The surfaces were cleaned. The velvet lining of the metal storage box had become insecure. The lining was aligned and secured to the internal surface of the box.

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Supports for the Epaulettes and protective storage box for the group.

Read more about Object Conservation at Spicer Art Conservation

Edison Tin-Foil

Spicer Art Conservation is pleased to be part of the efforts to recover the earliest recorded sounds dating from 1878. On June 20, 1878, in St Louis, Thomas Edison’s phonograph is demonstrated to an audience. The recording from that demonstration was captured on a piece of tin-foil which was later folded and stuffed into an envelope where it stayed until it was found in the miSci (formerly Schenectady Museum) archives. The Museum wanted to make it readable again and was told it could be done, but only if the ripped, creased, and crushed pieces of the foil could be flattened. miSci contacted Spicer Art Conservation and we were thrilled to take on such a unique task. Once it left our studios it went to California’s Berkeley Lab where it was read by scanning the surface. Now, finally the sound has been revealed. The 1+ minute recording consists of a brass instrumental, the recitation of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Old Mother Hubbard” along with some laughter and inaudible speech. A more detailed account can be read on our blog at: Inside the Conservator’s Studio and a viewing of the unveiling event can be watched at:

Below is the before image of a full sheet of “Tinfoil”.


The tinfoil phonograph was developed in 1877 and consisted of a brass cylindrical mouthpiece closed by a membrane of parchment or goldbeater’s skin using a steel stylus with a sharp chisel-shaped edge at its center.

Read more about Edison’s amazing invention here: Inside the Conservator’s Studio.

Below, the after treatment image of the flattened Tin-Foil. A custom made travel box has been created for the sheet to be safely hand carried to its next phase.

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