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Fine Art Restoration/Walrus Hide Doctor's Bag

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Question
walrus hide bag
walrus hide bag  

side view
side view  
Hello Paul,
    I couldn't find a link to continue our correspondence thread.  Here are a couple of pictures of the bag.  Again, I really appreciate the time and advice.

clay

Answer
Thanks for the photos.  That helps.  I  looks stable, except for wear on the edges.  Walrus is a particularly heavy, thick, and stiff hide.  I once worked on an Inuit walrus raw-hide piece that was made into Japanese-style chest armor and it probably could have taken a spear or arrow when first made.
Judging from the closure hardware, I'd say the bag is 1920's or 1930's vintage.

If I was treating it for a display, I'd probably spot apply a consolidant to the worn areas, then finish the exterior with tinted microcrystalline wax to even out the surfaces.  You can remove the dust with a canister vacuum or hose attached to an upright with the tube attachment that are sold for computer cleaning (micro attachments).  You  can find them at vacuum cleaner stores or on-line.  A soft cotton rag will also help.  Keeping it in relatively stable conditions, i.e. RH between 30% and 55% over a year, will help.

The interior may be a different issue, but if you're not going to use the bag, then other than cleaning it out, you don't need to do much.  Often with medical bags the interior dividers have torn and there are residues from spilled medicine bottles.  That's evidence of use so if there isn't active corrosion or deterioration, it can be left.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,
Paul

Fine Art Restoration

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Paul S. Storch

Expertise

I'm happy to answer questions concerning the preservation and conservation of three-dimensional archaeological, ethnographic, historic, technological, and decorative arts objects. My materials expertise includes leather, wood, metals, and composite materials.

Experience

I have close to thirty years experience as a conservator at three different museums and in private practice. I currently work as a collections manager overseeing 40,000 historic objects at over 20 sites around the state, as well as having a private treatment and consultation practice in the Midwest.

Organizations
American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Minnesota Association of Museums The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections Professional Picture Framers Association

Publications
Journal of the American Institute For Conservation Texas Archaeology University of Texas Conservation Notes Caring for American Indian Objects/Minnesota Historical Society Press The Interpreter/Minnesota Historical Society Journal of Field Archaeology

Education/Credentials
B.A. in Anthropology/Archaeology; M.A. in Anthropology/Museum Studies with a concentration in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation.

Awards and Honors
Recognition certificate from the Institute of Museum Services

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