Discussion Recent acquisition of painted canteen

MeTheNorth

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
First I would like to thank the warm welcome I received today, my first day as a raw cadet. I had mentioned earlier that I recently acquired a painted smooth canteen. I have attached 3 photos of the piece. The auctioneer's description was confined to the front of the canteen which is painted with the American Eagle and US shield. When I received it I noticed that the back of the canteen was painted with a blue sky with several clouds and a green field. I noticed the foliage along the horizon and clearly a human face (I assume a Union soldier) sporting a dark kepi. On the right side of the back there appears to be the black wheels of an artillery piece. The canteen is covered with dirt that has taken on the same consistency of the paint, virtually fused to the paint. I scratched a tiny bit of dirt along one of the seams with my thumbnail and it was clear that the dirt was on top of the paint. Naturally I am dying to see all of the painted images but am fearful of botching the paint and ending up with a worthless mess.

So my question is this: Should I have the canteen cleaned by a professional restorer or leave the it as is? Any and all response would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
A&M Canteen - full front.jpg
A&M Canteen - full back.jpg
A&M Canteen - back close-up.jpg
 
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
Texas
I don't think it would be worth sending off to a professional art restorer. It would likely be quite costly, and given the large amount of the painting that is missing anyway I don't think you'd get much bang for your buck.
If you are interested in cleaning it you might reach out to Julian Baumgartner on Youtube @Baumgertner Restoration and see if he would recommend any weak solvents.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
First I would like to thank the warm welcome I received today, my first day as a raw cadet. I had mentioned earlier that I recently acquired a painted smooth canteen. I have attached 3 photos of the piece. The auctioneer's description was confined to the front of the canteen which is painted with the American Eagle and US shield. When I received it I noticed that the back of the canteen was painted with a blue sky with several clouds and a green field. I noticed the foliage along the horizon and clearly a human face (I assume a Union soldier) sporting a dark kepi. On the right side of the back there appears to be the black wheels of an artillery piece. The canteen is covered with dirt that has taken on the same consistency of the paint, virtually fused to the paint. I scratched a tiny bit of dirt along one of the seams with my thumbnail and it was clear that the dirt was on top of the paint. Naturally I am dying to see all of the painted images but am fearful of botching the paint and ending up with a worthless mess.

So my question is this: Should I have the canteen cleaned by a professional restorer or leave the it as is? Any and all response would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.View attachment 393143View attachment 393144View attachment 393145
One thing you may or may not be aware, this looks to have been displayed in a GAR hall at some juncture. The give away are the gold accents on the spout and strap guides, for some reason GAR halls were infamous for painting displayed relics gold or silver.
 

MeTheNorth

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
One thing you may or may not be aware, this looks to have been displayed in a GAR hall at some juncture. The give away are the gold accents on the spout and strap guides, for some reason GAR halls were infamous for painting displayed relics gold or silver.
Thank you very much for the information. I have seen quite a few gold painted canteens, mainly bullseyes for some reason, but not seen any silver examples. I did know that decorations were added after the conflict. I did not know that this was done for the purpose of display at GAR's.
 

MeTheNorth

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Whew! Most grateful thanks to all who have responded and to those who continue to respond to my post. I am honoured (sorry, I am bound to the Queen to use British spelling) by your sage advice. I do not like to make decisions by consensus but, after much reflection, I think the consensus is correct. I will leave the piece in its as-is-state. I think it is evident what is under the soiling. Furthermore leaving the canteen as such will add to the mystery of the piece and future talking points. I may be rationalizing but you must admit it sounds good!
 

MeTheNorth

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
I think the dirt adds character. I’d leave it be, and as others have said, a gentle soap and water cleaning could be done if you must. I wouldn’t rub..dab..
If I try to clean it I would most definitely follow your advice. I am well trained in cleaning rug spills....always dab, never rub.

Thanks.
 

MeTheNorth

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Curious to know if using some form of clear coat spray, such as an enamel based paint would ruin the piece. I was thinking it would keep what was left intact.
Lubliner.
Sounds like a goods idea if I get to that step. I think I would spray into a rag and try dabbing a very small area along a rim and evaluate that result. Thanks for the tip.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
One thing you may or may not be aware, this looks to have been displayed in a GAR hall at some juncture. The give away are the gold accents on the spout and strap guides, for some reason GAR halls were infamous for painting displayed relics gold or silver.
Many of the GAR halls were decorated like elaborate shrines. To those veterans, saving the Union was a holy enterprise. Decorations in the hall were treated almost like holy relics.
 
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