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Thread: Coffin cases - not the usual restorations

  1. #1
    Senior Member ScienceGuy's Avatar
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    Default Coffin cases - not the usual restorations

    I had a bunch of old cases lying around, and stimulated by a few recent acquisitions, decided to try out some restorations of coffin cases. To start out, here are some originals:

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    The originals were fairly shiny, often had a decorative wrapping on the inside, and across the board had a red painted lip inside. Any holes in the cases can be repaired with papier-mache techniques. I fixed a few like this. Then the cases can be sealed with a thin layer of wood glue (a PVA glue). The original outer finish was as easy as black spray paint followed by an acrylic clearcoat. Here are a couple with the inside unchanged from the original decorative paper, but the outside has been restored:

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    Based on the first Greaves case pictured, the wrapper could actually be fairly vibrant marbled paper. Here is a full restoration of an early 1800s Greaves case. The marbled paper is fairly thin and was attached by soaking the back in a thinned PVA glue mixture, followed by a wood glue top coat:

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    A Wade & Butcher case, using the same techniques:

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    Finally, a large W&B case with the purple inner restored:

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  3. #2
    Senior Member ScienceGuy's Avatar
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    Part 2, some earlier cases. First up, this one I believe to be 1700s but may be earlier. It has been repaired with papier-mache (brown spot) to fix a hole, and the whole thing coated in wood glue as a sealant:

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    Another early one, a double case, with the marbled inner as before:

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    Probably 1700s 6-slot case. This one was falling apart but was stabilized with an overall coat of wood glue, and the inside was covered with marbled paper:

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    An early one with a slot for a strop, this one was coated in wood glue and thin red paper for the inner, as seen in some early depictions:

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    There are tons of these cases around, and they are more repairable than you might think at first. All these only took me a weekend. So if you have any cases that are beat and you think of throwing out, give it a shot!

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  5. #3
    " Atta Boy!!" sharptonn's Avatar
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    Nice work, ScienceGuy!

    Lots of ways to bring them back. Here is an old Beardsly and Alvord Empire box. Ends out, bad shape.

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    I used bits from another, hopeless box and a hot glue gun, wire brush to blend and match patina. A sharpie for color.
    A few coats of Birchwood Casey TruOil.

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    This is amazing and you guys have given me a new perspective on restoring old coffin cases. Very nice indeed!
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    Semper Fi !

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceGuy View Post
    Part 2, some earlier cases. First up, this one I believe to be 1700s but may be earlier. It has been repaired with papier-mache (brown spot) to fix a hole, and the whole thing coated in wood glue as a sealant:

    Name:  DSC_2290.jpg
Views: 332
Size:  64.5 KB

    Name:  DSC_2291.jpg
Views: 329
Size:  64.5 KB

    Another early one, a double case, with the marbled inner as before:

    Name:  DSC_2293.jpg
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Size:  63.5 KB

    Name:  DSC_2294.jpg
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Size:  65.3 KB

    Name:  DSC_2295.jpg
Views: 324
Size:  69.3 KB

    Probably 1700s 6-slot case. This one was falling apart but was stabilized with an overall coat of wood glue, and the inside was covered with marbled paper:

    Name:  DSC_2296.jpg
Views: 323
Size:  70.7 KB

    Name:  DSC_2298.jpg
Views: 324
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    An early one with a slot for a strop, this one was coated in wood glue and thin red paper for the inner, as seen in some early depictions:

    Name:  DSC_2300.jpg
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Size:  63.1 KB

    Name:  DSC_2301.jpg
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Size:  59.0 KB

    Name:  pre 1668 Koedijk.jpg
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    There are tons of these cases around, and they are more repairable than you might think at first. All these only took me a weekend. So if you have any cases that are beat and you think of throwing out, give it a shot!
    I actually have quite a few lying around and thought about tossing them. I think I'll give a restoration of one a try.

    Thanks!
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  10. #6
    " Atta Boy!!" sharptonn's Avatar
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    Do it! It's easy and fun. Just try to make it look authentic, which is fairly simple when referring to the really old Sheffield, French, American razors.

    The oldies are a bit rough in perfect original shape and quite rough in worn original shape.
    Just meet it in the middle and make it look old and rough! Plenty of old boxes for donor-filler..

    AND they are all black-brown!

    What could be easier and more rewarding? Looking forward to seeing more box restores here!
    Last edited by sharptonn; 11-08-2016 at 12:41 AM.

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    I never would have thought to try this, thanks for sharing!!

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    I did a light reconstruction on an old Wostenholm I sold some time back:





    In retrospect, I should've refinished the whole outer case instead of just patching up parts. The interior paper and red-lip are original (and a bit sloppy!), but there was a large tear in the corner of the cap that I sealed with traditional papier-mâché technique (a bit of tissue-paper or maybe a paper-towel and some 50:50 PVA glue/water solution), then covered with black India ink, then sealed with a coat of PVA glue.

    PVA glue is common Elmer's Glue All or most similar white-to-yellow viscous glues that are water soluble. Most wood glue works too.
    -Zak Jarvis. Writer. Artist. Bon vivant.

  13. #9
    Historically Inquisitive Martin103's Avatar
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    Interesting, I used shellac on the ones I restored, gives the box some shine and protection and also acts as a glue for any loose materials.
    Razor box restoration
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    Don't know how I missed that thread, but nice work Martin.
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