Sword blade preservation

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Clawson

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I have an 1840 Artillery Saber. It has some type of yellowish/brownish lacquer on the blade with Philippines scratched into it on one side and Cuba scratched into the other. It also has a strong "chemical" odor to it that my other swords do not have.
Was using lacquer a common practice to protect blades from rusting?
 

Package4

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Not sure about sword blades, but I can remember polishing my brass and "cheating" with a touch of lacquer to keep the shine a little longer, it would pass the first couple of inspections, but invariably a tiny scratch would undo the whole.
 

redbob

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Not sure about sword blades, but I can remember polishing my brass and "cheating" with a touch of lacquer to keep the shine a little longer, it would pass the first couple of inspections, but invariably a tiny scratch would undo the whole.
In Marine Corps Boot Camp, you would have to remove the protective coating from your brass belt buckles so that you would have to polish them. 49 years and the memories are still there. And I don't believe that the US military ever coated their sword blades to keep them from rusting.
 
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Patrick H

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Post photos (and plenty of them) to get meaningful replies about your saber. In the meantime, welcome from Missouri.
 

WJC

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Welcome! Sounds like a personal 'modification': I've not heard of using varnish or lacquer to preserve a blade. Looking forward to photos....
 
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Package4

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I have an 1840 Artillery Saber. It has some type of yellowish/brownish lacquer on the blade with Philippines scratched into it on one side and Cuba scratched into the other. It also has a strong "chemical" odor to it that my other swords do not have.
Was using lacquer a common practice to protect blades from rusting?
It could be old cosmoline that has hardened into a hard crust, I have seen that on old blades and even have a Colt musket that has never been fired, with a cosmoline like (grease) substance in the nipple and lock interior. There can be a strong odor associated with it......
 
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Patrick H

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That's a very pretty saber, even if it has been coated. I've seen a lot of antique tools (chisels and such) with shellac painted on the blades by antique dealers. I also had a Parker shotgun in my possession for a while that had been coated with shellac. I suppose this was done to prevent rust, but it's a clumsy way to go about things. I expect the saber was coated by someone well after the original owner. We'll never know, though. You could gently clean that coating off and then wax the blade. If I were going to attempt it, I'd use alcohol first. It'll dissolve shellac. If it doesn't work, try lacquer thinner. Then maybe acetone. Shop towels or cotton balls only. NO ABRASIVES! Keep the chemicals away from the grip, too. If you do this, use good ventilation and rubber gloves.
 
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Clawson

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That's a very pretty saber, even if it has been coated. I've seen a lot of antique tools (chisels and such) with shellac painted on the blades by antique dealers. I also had a Parker shotgun in my possession for a while that had been coated with shellac. I suppose this was done to prevent rust, but it's a clumsy way to go about things. I expect the saber was coated by someone well after the original owner. We'll never know, though. You could gently clean that coating off and then wax the blade. If I were going to attempt it, I'd use alcohol first. It'll dissolve shellac. If it doesn't work, try lacquer thinner. Then maybe acetone. Shop towels or cotton balls only. NO ABRASIVES! Keep the chemicals away from the grip, too. If you do this, use good ventilation and rubber gloves.
I’ve thought about it. I imagine the blade would be like new since it’s been coated.
 

Lanyard Puller

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It looks like gold paint. It was an ACW issue sword most likely re-issued in the Spanish-American war.

If some of the US sword experts would chime in on this possibility, then the "Manila 1899" is something you would NOT want to remove, just to shine up an average condition sword. Two wars rather than one, tell a much better story of this ole girl.
 
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Patrick H

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It looks like gold paint. It was an ACW issue sword most likely re-issued in the Spanish-American war.

If some of the US sword experts would chime in on this possibility, then the "Manila 1899" is something you would NOT want to remove, just to shine up an average condition sword. Two wars rather than one, tell a much better story of this ole girl.
I agree. I hadn't thought of the possibility of removing the inscription, but it does look like ink, now that you mention it.
 
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