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Removing Patina on Original Muskets

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by beanbomb, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. beanbomb

    beanbomb Cadet

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    I am curious to know what people's thoughts are on "restoring" original muskets. Now, I don't mean a beat up musket with 1/3rd of the parts missing; I am talking about a musket that is in generally fair shape, but maybe has an almost black patina or multiple dents in the wood. I am asking this because I was told by a reputable vendor in Gettysburg that one shouldn't remove the patina because it devalues the musket. However, I would like to use my original 1842 at reenactments, but I believe the patina is just too dark and is not authentic. Most 42s in photographs I have seen have had more of a bright finish. Please share your thoughts on this, i'm not sure if I should remove the patina on my 1842.

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    Specster likes this.

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  3. cwbuff

    cwbuff Private

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    I cannot see the pictures for some reason. Regardless, the patina is part of the history of the antique and it is a bad idea to remove it.
     
  4. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee Private

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    I agree with cwbuff. Generally speaking, it is best to leave the patina.

    If you are dedicated to removing it and not concerned about the devaluation, then you'll want to go very carefully, using a gentle solvent, super fine steel wool, and soft rags.

    Do Not use wire brushes or electric grinders, as these will almost certainly damage any underlying markings or engravings.

    But, again, I would recommend against any removal.
     
    Michael W. and Copperhead-mi like this.
  5. ucvrelics.com

    ucvrelics.com Sergeant Major Forum Host

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  6. turner ashby kidd

    turner ashby kidd Private

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    Don't do it...
    Personally I would not use original equipment at anything except at a Living History.
    Often I've seen historic items destroyed after exposure to the elements from several re-enactments.
    Just my thoughts. Your weapon, your choice.
     
    Michael W., Copperhead-mi and WJC like this.
  7. Story

    Story Sergeant

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    I'll just leave this here.
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  8. pfcjking

    pfcjking Sergeant Major

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    Sell it as is, and use the money to buy a real nice defarbed 1842 Springfield.

    Then take the extra money, and donate to a good CW Battlefield Preservation charity.
     
  9. AndyHall

    AndyHall Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    I'm not a collector, but my understanding is that in both historic arms and coin collecting, removing the original patina comes close to being a cardinal sin.

    I would think that using an original piece at a reenactment may not be the best idea to begin with, given the likelihood of inadvertent damage to the piece. Bad enough it it's a good-quality replica, but a disaster if it's an original.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  10. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    Your M-1842 Musket is still in existence because generations of people before you have cared for and preserved it. You are merely another caretaker. The fact that you are the current owner gives you no particular right to destroy it for future generations of collectors and enthusiasts!

    As for your presentation at a re-enactment, you should not have a M-1842 that looks like it is 150+ years old. Your M-1842 would have been issued out of an armory where it would have been kept polished bright. Once issued to you, it was your responsibility to keep it polished bright, and if you didn't your Sergeant would explain your duties and responsibilities to you in no uncertain terms! The advice to purchase a new condition reproduction M-1842 Musket is well said.

    With all that having been said, I have another observation and comment. I do not understand why so many re-enactors think that their uniforms, arms, and equipments should have a "beat to death" appearance. I stopped a young "Yankee" fellow one time after a re-enactment to ask a few questions about his persona and equipage. When I stopped him he was literally dragging his reproduction P-53 across a parking lot by holding the upper end of the sling. His uniform was bedraggled, all brass was deeply tarnished, and his leather goods were actually moldy! His musket was rusty and all gouged up as if it had been thrown numerous times, with the top of the butt plate nearly worn through from having been dragged on a regular basis. His reply to me about my questions regarding his appearance and the poor condition of his equipment was " This is how they REALLY looked in the Civil War! Their muskets were rusty and their equipment was always in poor condition from constant exposure to the weather." I thanked him for his expertise on the Civil War and went on my way thinking to myself "Seriously?"
    J.
     
  11. Pvt.Shattuck

    Pvt.Shattuck Sergeant Major

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    Nothing original should ever be used at a re-enactment. After 150 years the relics are too fragile and don't look like they did when they were new, anyway.
    A friend of mine used his G Grandfather's Sharp's at 125th Gettysburg and lost a part, never to be replaced. He was sick over it and still regrets his stupidity.
    Maybe buttons, but I wouldn't.
     
  12. beanbomb

    beanbomb Cadet

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    Thanks for the great replies, I have decided I will leave it alone and find a good defarbed reproduction. I will most likely use it for living histories only. Again, thanks for all the info.
     
  13. pfcjking

    pfcjking Sergeant Major

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    I guess he never heard of an inspection. Even the rebs had inspections. Moldy leather, rusty weapons, and unkept ammunition would usually be punished, at least in the more disciplined outfits.
    Clothing could not be helped in many cases, as you many enlisted men only wore what they could furnish for themselves. Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas troops in Virginia were sometimes half naked. States were expected to cloth and equip their own troops, so the further away from home, the worse. I've read of the Texans in Hood's Brigade after Gettysburg looking like they were wearing short pants. So for clothing, there was an excuse.
    For weapons and equipment, there was no excuse for the most part. Even today, weapon and equipment maintenance in the field is more important than the soldier's hygiene.
     
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  14. pfcjking

    pfcjking Sergeant Major

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    Smart move.
    For me, I like all my guns to have a purpose, unless they are heirlooms. Wall hangers are not my bag. As much as I'd like to fiddle with an original, I know there are better homes for it than in my closet. I'd sell it to a collector the first time I could make a profit with it.
     
  15. originalrebelyell

    originalrebelyell Corporal

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    Its 150+years old, I wouldn't do anything drastic as far as a major cleaning other than oiling, unless it has serious active rust issues which I would clean to keep it from rusting away.
     
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  16. Freddy

    Freddy 2nd Lieutenant

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    I cleaned my great grandfather's Model 1861 Springfield by using plumbers anti-rust solution. It cleaned the metal parts to match the underside of the barrel hidden by the stock, which I used linseed oil on. I used gun grease to put a coating on the metal and hung it back up on the family fireplace where it hangs today. HWT Model 1861 Springfield.jpg
     
  17. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    How truly wonderful you have your g-grandfather's musket! I wish some of my relatives would have purchased their muskets upon discharge!
    J.
     
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  18. Freddy

    Freddy 2nd Lieutenant

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    If I remember correctly he paid $6 for the musket. Unfortunately, it was not the original Enfield he was issued in 1862 as he lost it when captured. I almost forgot that I had his initials, HWT, engraved in the metal butt plate on the stock.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
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  19. originalrebelyell

    originalrebelyell Corporal

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    That is a nice looking Springfield.
     
  20. Michael W.

    Michael W. Sergeant

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    Don't do it. Please....
     
  21. Booner

    Booner First Sergeant

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    Isn't that a Rem 870 above the Springfield? It looks like an early one.
     

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