Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Globe conservation and protection part 2 Renaissance wax review

     I'm always looking for ways to protect my collection from environmental concerns, weather that be sun exposure  ( previous post)  or the subtle effects of dust, handling, and humidity.  I'll admit that I might be a little late to the party on this one : Renaissance wax, this product is a microcrystalline wax developed by the British Museum in the 1950's as a polish, and protectant for it's collection.
     Ok so I was introduced to this product by Omniterrum and then again by another friend and collector who was using it with his collection. Well I thought ....I gotta try this stuff.  So I ordered a 200 ml jar of this wax, and I got started.
     This wax is oil based ( and it smells the part)  but surprisingly even indoors vapors and fumes are not a problem. Upon first opening the package I thought I might have to setup in the garage to use this stuff, not so, no lingering odor whatsoever.  The same can't be said for most furniture waxes, boy your whole house smells for 3 days after you've waxed the credenza.....but I digress....
     Lets start with some before and after pictures shall we:
RandMcNally base before
RandMcNally base after

Rand McNally base after wax
    So these two pictures above  show a before and after application of Renaissance wax. The pictures do not necessarily do this product justice the after is defiantly cleaner, and brighter but without being glossy and plastic looking, a muted sheen that adds to and accentuates the existing patina.  Here is another picture of another globe base that had always troubled me.
     This globe base on the right is from a 1930 Rand McNally library globe a nice globe, but the base had always been it's weakness. Despite my best efforts the base of this globe was always a bit drab, the richness of the wood lost in a dull finish. Enter the Renaissance wax and a little elbow grease and a glowing deep shine was resulted.
     Below another globe base with a dramatic deep shine, a Weber Costello base:
Weber Costello base after wax

You're probably wondering what about the globe orb? Well yes this product is indeed safe to apply right onto the surface of the orb itself, I have already treated 3 of my pieces and there is a definite difference in the before and after, but not enough of a difference that my phone camera was able to pick up. This product is defiantly most dramatic on metal and wood. However The wax was able to impart a sheen and lend a depth to the colors of the globe orb. It is not a cure all. if the shellac is missing, or very warn this product is not going to replace the missing finish. What it will do is enhance the old finish, protect from dust, dirt, and the general environment as well as lend a slight sheen to the finish. All said a nice result for the time and effort. Best of all it is safe, and already trusted by museums world wide. 

     Now that you have seen the potential results lets get down to the nitty gritty. The how to segment...

For best application you will need pure cotton cloths, at least two, one for application and one for buffing. Try and find lint free cotton cloths, old t-shirts actually work really well.  I have been told that for buffing the wax nothing beats a horsehair brush, a reader and fellow collector has tried this with great results, but use 100% horse hair only, no synthetics!   When it comes to wax application, a little goes a long way. I can't stress this enough don't get carried away applying a thick film of wax, all you are doing is wasting product and wasting time buffing off the excess. Remember 99% of a good wax job is in the removal of the wax leaving a microscopic invisible film behind.
     Unlike furniture wax, or car wax for that matter this wax dries very quickly after application, minutes not hours are involved in letting this stuff cure.
     Some specific tips related to application to a globe orb:
1. take your time, most damage to antiques occurs during routine handling, so plan ahead and slow down.
2. Be careful, apply wax with a light touch, you don't have to buff the wax into the globe, a light easy motion works best.
3. when buffing the wax, go slow, be gentle, this product removes easily, and if you used the proper amount there will be not too much to take off
4. Remove all the wax, but don't over buff, unlike a wooden or metal piece you are not going to burnish the wax less is more here!
5. Before you tackle a delicate surface like a globe orb practice on something less delicate like a piece of furniture, or  similar. Get some familiarity it really is a versatile product.

Finding this wax is easy, I purchased from Amazon, but there are many outlets that sell it, expect to pay $20 US plus shipping, and that 200ml container will probably last you years even if you use it all over the house!
     I'm probably going to go further with this product, but will I use it on every piece of my collection?  Not sure.....in the mean time I think I'll just sit back on the davenport and admire progress so far.

P.S Is that the Paw Patrol lookout tower in the background of my pictures?  Yes...Yes it is....

As always I'd love to hear from fellow collectors, comments always welcome, or drop me a line via email.  happy hunting...


  1. I just updated this post based on reader feedback recommending the use of a horse hair brush for wax removal, I have not tried this method but based on this collectors experience, and horse hairs long use in furniture finishing I feel I must make mention here!

  2. Omniterrum advised me about using a type of wax for my globes- one of my Reimers is particularly faded and dull. I then asked around but can't seem to find anything this side of the Pond (I'm in Germany). It's frustrating as I don't just love these artefacts- I teach with them and it would be great to just see some of the placenames and details once in a while as the borders change during the war.

  3. Keir, the wax noted in this post is the same one Omniterrum uses and it is manufactured in England, Ebay should have dozens of listings for it finding it in a hobby store will be very difficult also it's not an item any hardware store would generally carry but I'm confident an Internet search will uncover a local source , good luck
    P.s. I bought mine on Amazon forgive me I don't know if Amazon operates in Germany.

  4. I wasn't sure if the wax you were referring to was limited to the base, or can also be applied to the globe itself. But wow- that stuff is expensive! Need to find a German brand which is difficult when I can't even communicate with the neighbours..

    1. The was is on the pricey side , yes, but trusted by museums world wide, and I'm not kidding when I say you'll only buy it once because even the small container will last years, I and others have applied it to globe orbs with great success.