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Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

Article about: I bought one of these small ultrasonic cleaners from the Tschibo shop in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. The instructions for use were in German, Dutch and Polish. Nothing in English. Having &qu

  1. #1

    Question Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    Hi, all. I am purchasing the HJ buckle below, which has been posted here previously. This purchase and a recent look at the restoration thread here brought up the consideration of "cleaning-up" buckles.
    I realize this is often a contended issue amongst collectors in general and I assume buckle collectors are no exception. I am curious as I haven't heard a lot about "cleaning-up" or restoring within buckle collecting (mostly with daggers so far) and wanted to get a survey of opinions and information/suggestions.
    I was thinking that some of my buckles (save the kriegsmetall and stamped zinc M5 buckle I recently picked up) might clean/polish up nicely (particularly steel and brass) but wasn't sure if most even do this to their pieces.
    After looking at the restoration thread, I researched the products below and thought some of them might be appropriate were I to want to experiment in cleaning up this new steel HJ I just got.

    The products are: Vulpex Liquid Soap, Rennaissance Metal Decorroder, Pre-Lim and of course, Renaissance Wax.

    Does anyone have thoughts on or experience with these products with regard to your buckles? I'm taking pride in my growing collection and, as are most I assume, am interested in making them look as good as possible and protecting them, without doing damage or taking away value.
    In addition to these possible products, I thought the necessary tools might just be a very soft, gently used toothbrush and a soft buffing/polishing cloth to apply the RenWax as the final step. What do you guys, think?

    I really appreciate any and all opions and information...thanks!
    Best,
    Adam
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    Adam

    This is all down to personal choice which from reading the start of your thread I think you realise. This is a minefield subject and i have seen one thread on another forum turn quite nasty so I will be wtaching this one. I personally leave my buckles alone, I have in the past used saddle saop to preserve leather tabs but thats about it, like I said that is my choice
    Ben

  4. #3

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    Yes, i would never clean any of these items, and like you said, on old leather items, saddle soap to keep them from cracking, and rotting away, as leather has a nasty habit of doing, especially really old leather.

    When you clean old metal items, you will wash away any value, and it could make people believe that its a fake, being in such GOOD, CLEAN CONDITION.


    Brian

  5. #4

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    you will loose the Patina if you clean them and that meens less value.
    Keep them as is. I allso collect coins, and in the coinworld, cleaning is a deathsin. Never clean, exept with water and sope.

  6. #5

    Default To clean or not to clean - that is the question !!

    Ben knows the history of this subject being discussed on collectors forums and hopefully, we will on the WR forum not achieve the dubious distinction of a first, that is of a co moderator being censured by the moderator !

    This is a very subjective subject.

    In my opinion, Brian and with all due respect has mantra like, provided totally wrong and quite misleading information by stating that "...when you clean old metal items, you will wash away any value, and it could make people believe that its a fake...".

    Sorry Brian, just not true in relation to some belt buckles.

    Again in my opinion, perhaps these basic points may be taken into consideration:-

    1.
    It is most definitely subjective and really, the owner of a buckle should do what they feel comfortable with. There are no rules and there is no chance whatsoever that a clean original buckle could ever be mistaken for a clean original fake

    2.
    Forget the romantic rubbish spouted about a buckle showing patina, history, been there and all that rot. This so called patina etc. is post 1945 dirt, filth, grime et al and which in my opinion often (not always) insults and degrades the integrity of such a special and splendid uniform item

    3.
    Certain buckles (bare brass and nickle silver for example) were actually regularly and enthusiastically cleaned by their original owners. For an SA Mann or an HJ member for example to turn out with a filthy dirty buckle (oops, sorry, silly me - historic patina buckle) would have been both a disciplinary matter and regarded as quite un soldierly like. Many buckles were made, sold and worn to "shine" as can be seen from many period catalogues and period photographs

    4.
    In my opinion, no one and under any circumstances should attempt to clean any buckle with a paint, lacquer, frosting, fire gilding, etc., etc. finish.

    Regards,

    David

  7. #6

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    so when you buy a belt buckle, you prefer to see a shiny, and clean, compared to one that shows age, and patina, I would not.

    You said ;

    Sorry Brian, just not true in relation to some belt buckles.




    Yes, its his buckle, but he did ask a question, and i added my thoughts.

    And yes the ORIGINAL OWNERS would have polished their buckles, as i had to do on my Army class A buckle, and other items on it also.

    Yes there would have been some type of disciplinary matter back then, and with current issue military items that are still in use today, we are talking about belt buckles from the 20's, 30's, and 40;s, not current issue items.


    And of course back then , they had the option to buy as many buckles they wanted, and anything else that we would love to have today, so if they polished it too much, or it got destroyed, or lost for some unknown reason.

    And in my opinion, no one should never clean any buckles at all. Mabe take a brush to it, and lightly brush away any dirt, or debri in the inside edges, and corners.

    And where did the co-moderator being censured bit of information come from ???

    Brian

  8. #7
    ?

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    I have been told that if you can get access to a small ultra sonic water bath , this will remove all dirt,grime and age related deposits and will also gently polish the item, dont know if true but i have seen ultra sonics being used on other metals as a commercial concern and it certainly does make a difference, as it is a deep clean method!!!

  9. #8

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    Brian

    Please carefully read my response again. Everything I said was clearly with the loose caveat of "in my opinion".

    Dave

    Have one, tried it - near useless.

    Regards,

    David

  10. #9
    ?

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    Oh well thats one thats out the window then , but did you use a jewellers rouge paste in the water, the info i had did come from a jewellers who does this on a large scale in Hatton garden , London, and really does clean gold, silver, platignum,etc

  11. #10

    Default Re: Need Help: Information & Opinions On Cleaning/Restoration and Preservation of Buckles

    Hi, guys. Thanks for all the responses so far! I understand that this is a very loaded subject, but as Brian said, I did ask the question because I exploring my values and options as a collector and greatly value all the feedback.
    I think everyone has made some very excellent points. I feel I am being drawn to somewhere in the middle ground, a centrist approach if you will, to this issue.
    My dad has always been the type of collector to keep things untouched and a bit gritty, so I have come to see the potential value in this. Even if it is post-1945 (or whatever date) build-up, grime, etc. it seems it is still part of the pieces history and a testament to age. I agree with David, though that this idea is romanticized, etc. too much.
    As David said, it does seem to me that some buckles, for instance the brass and nickeled types David refers to, might be appropriate to clean and shine up a bit. Of course, if I choose to do this I plan to be extremely careful and conservative. Some buckles of these types it seems may actually have enhanced value (historical and otherwise) if restored to their original clean and polished period presentation that was so valued at the time.
    On the other hand, as David said, painted buckles or anything with a frosting or finish to it seems best left alone and perhaps this lends natural balance to one's collection.
    Finally, and with due respect and appreciation for your opinion Brian, it is my opinion that anyone who really knows an original piece when they see one is likely not to be misled by some restorative work. On this point, I must agree with David.
    As Ben said, I know these kinds of things can get nasty but I think it is an interesting, important subject and that everyone here is mature and collegial enough to handle it!

    Thanks again for the replies!
    Best,
    Adam

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