42.272 Jade Chinese scepter (18th - 19th century)
Jade, coral, silk, cording, gilt metal, kingfisher feathers
Collection of the Walters Art Museum
For two decades this scepter was displayed in the Hackerman House galleries of the Walters Art Museum. During this long display period, the kingfisher feather and coral bead tassel hung unsupported, exposing the silk threads stringing the coral beads to light damage and mechanical stress. During de-installation of the object two of the fragile threads of the tassel broke, necessitating conservation treatment. During my initial examination a third strand broke and detached from the ornament. Clearly a safer means to handle the object was needed. I constructed a supportive housing to enable the safe handling of the object during photography, treatment, and while in storage.
XRF analysis with Walters Art Museum conservation scientist Glenn Gates indicated a gold-enriched surface over a silver and copper matrix, which may or may not contain some gold After conducting literature research on the background of the object and materials comprising it, I conducted treatment to lightly clean the object overall, and re-attach the three strands of coral beads. Using B-72 in acetone I consolidated the frayed ends of the threads and adhered the terminal bead in place. Fine gauge nylon monofilament was then tied at the end of each strand, then tied to the kingfisher ornament. Knots in the nylon thread were secured with B-72 to prevent unraveling.