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Fine Art Restoration/Walrus Hide Doctor's Bag


Hello Paul,
    I hope this finds you doing well.  I have purchased an old Kruse dr's bag made of walrus.  It appears in fairly decent shape, but is a bit dry.  I wondered what you would recommend as far as care?  Thanks for any info!


Is there any way that you can post images with these questions?  If so, that would be helpful for me to answer your question.

Anyway,  I have some questions for you:  are there any areas where the grain surface is missing, powdery, and/or a red/orange color?  This would be obvious on areas where the leather is continually stressed or folded, such as near the closures.  If so, then it might be 'red-rotted' which is an irreversible acidic condition where the flexibility of the collagen fibers has been compromised.  That condition requires consolidation.

If the leather is just dry, and without actually seeing it, I would suggest that you do not use any leather dressings or oils.  If it is indeed red-rotted, applying those would only add to the problem and could even exacerbate it.  Dressings don't help leather that is not continually 'in service' and only makes it greasy, can stain other things that it's in contact with, and can corrode brass and iron fittings on the leather object as it breaks down and becomes acidic (despite most manufacturers' claims that their dressing product is 'safe and neutral').

The best thing that you can do for preservation is to support the shape from the interior with non-buffered acid-free tissue (available from archival suppliers like University or polyethylene foam materials, and by keeping the object in as stable a temperature and humidity environment as possible.  Also, keep it out of direct sunlight and minimize handling.

Let me know if you have any other questions and please rate my answer at your earliest convenience.

P. Storch

Fine Art Restoration

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Paul S. Storch


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.


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.

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

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

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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