Highlights from recent work for antique dealers

Highlights from recent work for antique dealers

At Works on Paper, we are fortunate to work with some of the most respected early American and Folk Art dealers in the country. We have been especially busy during the last few months helping conserve some really special pieces for our dealer clients to take to the major summer antique shows.

The 38th Annual Vermont Antiques Dealers Association Show took place last weekend, and this Friday kicks off Antiques Week in New Hampshire. Thousands of people from all over the country attend these events and many of the top dealers in the country will be exhibiting at the shows. For a complete listing of events, check http://www.antiquesweeknh.com/.

For me, the highlight of the show is the 55th Annual New Hampshire Antiques Show which starts on Thursday August 9 and runs through Saturday. I will be there on Thursday afternoon, checking out the show and visiting with clients.

We thought it would be fun to highlight some of our recent projects for dealers which by now have most likely found new homes and new appreciation.


The piece below is an especially detailed watercolor theorem, painted by a young woman named Mary Gager in 1821. When it came into the studio, it was mounted to an acidic board and suffered from severe matburn and acid staining. Prior to being mounted to the board, this watercolor must have been stored rolled up for quite some time to create the number of visible creases with associated media loss. Conservation treatment involved removing the watercolor from the acidic board, gentle capillary action washing, reducing stains, mending tears, and flattening. In this case, the dealer did not want to assume that the future owner would be bothered by the media loss along the creases, so no inpainting was done at the time.

Watercolor theorem, 1821. Before Treatment.


Watercolor Theorem, 1821. After Treatment.


This next drawing is one of my personal favorites. It is a graphite pencil drawing of three playful kittens and was drawn by H.B. Lundt in 1849 as “a present for Mary Ella”.  Like most of the 19th-century pieces we treat, this drawing suffered from severe acid burn and staining due to being framed directly between glass and an acidic wooden board and then exposed to light for decades, if not over a century. In this case, water damage was also present. Fortunately most 19th-century works of art on paper are executed on good quality cotton rag papers which tend to respond very well to conservation treatment.

Playful Kittens in graphite, 1849. Before Treatment.


Playful Kittens in graphite, 1849. After Treatment.

As a paper conservator, I also treat three-dimensional objects. For example, this terrestrial globe from 1877 came into the studio because the text and images were badly obscured by a very discolored varnish. Otherwise, the globe was in quite good condition with few losses and little structural damage. In some places the varnish had begun to flake off on its own, but for the most part remained intact. The image below shows some test removal spots I conducted on the meridian ring.

Smith's Terrestrial Globe, 1877. During Test Removal of Varnish.


Smith's Terrestrial Globe, 1877. After Treatment.

These objects are just a small selection of the types of objects we treat for dealers. If you are a dealer or collector with a project you would like us to look at, please don’t hesitate to contact us. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the upcoming summer antiques shows!