Conditioning wwii leather bomber and it's artwork

Discussion in 'Care / Preservation' started by SusanD, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. SusanD

    SusanD New Member

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    12
    I have read through these forums and there are so many threads and I can not find the info I am looking for. We have my father-in-laws leather bomber jacket and have used picard to condition it. My concern is that the large artwork on the back, I have lightly conditioned it but don't want to mess it up. Can anyone tell me how to care for this? Is the picard leather dressing ok to use on it?
     
  2. Steve27752

    Steve27752 Well-Known Member

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    1,586
    Location:
    Berkshire, U.K.
    Hi Susan and welcome to VLJ, I am sure there will be someone on the forum that can help you.
    If possible can you post pictures of the jacket and it's artwork?
    Pecards is very good for the leather as to the artwork, it may depend on the type of paint used.
     
  3. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    600
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I stopped using Pecards when I found Renapur. It is the same type of conditioner, pretty much same consistency, but it is Bees Wax based and has no chemicals. Pecards is petroleum based and can haze up (turn white) when subjected to cold temperatures. Also I feel better about the long term effects of bees wax over petroleum jelly on the vintage leathers.

    As far as the paint goes, I would avoid putting anything on it unless it is super dry. You may rub off paint. Especially if using petroleum distillates.

    Renapur is available on Amazon. It is made in the UK.

    Regards,
    Jay
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
  4. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,950
    Location:
    Norway
    Hi Susan,

    At the museum here they use museum grade leather conservation products. As the jacket is painted you have to be especially careful to prevent flaking and to protect the paint pigments from detrimental effects of light. If you like I can ask our head conservator what he recommends (he's very good and we have quite a few flight jackets in the collection both on display and in storage). Feel free to PM me if you'd like me to pick his brains.

    Best,

    Tim
     
  5. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

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    1,531
    I think the best advice is unless there is an overly compelling reason to do it, leave the artwork and patches alone. Without seeing pictures it is very hard to say much, but you could have a jacket that is worth $1000 to $8000 as a collectable...with most nice examples likely in the $1500 to $4000 range. Most things that are done to "help" are relatively short term, but in the longterm sometimes have negative effects. A collectable that is in reasonable shape after 70+ years is likely, with some reasonable storage care, to continue to be for a long time.

    If you want to wear it like a new piece of clothing, then that becomes another story, and might require more treatment, now and in the future. But there will be a trade off for that, likely a decline in the condition and in turn the potential value.

    Posting pictures would be helpful. Often these jackets have been "restored" in the past or modified in ways that greatly hurt their value. Sometimes, they are truly historic and worth too much to consider wearing. Knowing what you are starting with is an important first step.
     
  6. SusanD

    SusanD New Member

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    12
    3E86465F-EF62-4107-88C7-E4D07E28DBEE.jpeg E9EB009B-12D8-46EF-B114-DCEF570384CF.jpeg Hi, thanks for the quick responses! Thanks for the welcome Steve! First time really using a forum so I am trudging along here, bare with me. Jay, I will order some of that Renapur and Tim, I would love any info you can get for me on keeping the artwork conditioned and well. Not sure how to pm from here but also working from a cellphone currently. Unclegrumpy, definitely not wanting to wear this great piece of family history butwant to be able to share it with future generations!
     
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  7. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    600
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Welcome Susan! Beautiful A-2 I would love to see more photos. I see a hint of a nice patch there as well.
    See if you can get him to wear it for at least some photos. That would be great to have.

    Can you tell who made it from the label?

    Best Regards,
    Jay
     
  8. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,950
    Location:
    Norway
    I agree it looks lovely and in good condition. Try not to crease the back at all to protect the paint. Is it decorated on the front panels at all? I'll have a chat tomorrow with the conservator and I'll let you know what he says both about preserving it's current condition and displaying it so as to lessen any degradation to it.

    Wonderful jacket!
     
    SusanD likes this.
  9. SusanD

    SusanD New Member

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    IMG_3844.jpg IMG_3850.JPG IMG_3842.jpg IMG_3841.jpg IMG_3843.jpg IMG_3845.jpg IMG_3852.JPG IMG_3853.JPG
    Ok, here are a little bit better photos. As far as I can see there isn't a brand label other than the Air Force US Army label. A hole by the 390th patch and the cuffs are in pretty decent shape a few very small holes. But if you look at the close ups of the artwork you can see it is chipping off. I know that one of the guys in his squad painted the jackets for the whole crew. My husband knows the name and we have actually talked to the son of the gentleman who painted it. Unfortunately he doesn't know what happened to his fathers jacket but we sent him good quality photos so he at least has that to share. I think we have photos of Fred wearing the jacket somewhere but we can get a few more just incase. We do have one from wartime with him in it also. Again any help with preserving this would be so appreciated.
     
  10. SusanD

    SusanD New Member

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    12
    1254074156-B-17 Fred Bill Nick.jpg 1254086316-Denne jacket.jpg
    Here we are....2009 and 1945ish
     
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  11. seres

    seres Member

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    49
    Beautiful jacket! The pictures are excellent, especially the wartime photo of the jacket. The label indicates it was manufactured by the S.H. Knopf company in 1942.
     
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  12. Grant

    Grant Well-Known Member

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    1,182
    Hey Susan, really wonderful photos of your families heirloom. For what it's worth, I also have had great success preserving vintage leather jackets with Pecard's Antique Leather Dressing. Shearling as well as goatskin, horse and steerhide leather have all benefited from using it. One note: a little goes a long way when using it. Thanks for posting the great photos!
     
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  13. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,539
    Susan
    Thanks for sharing photos of the jacket. As a suggestion I would talk to Denne and ask him to tell you about some of his WWII experiences while serving and during some of his missions in that aircraft. Document them. His experiences during WWII are every bit as valuable as his jacket and will serve as provenance for the jacket.
    Also please thank Denne from all of us for his service .
     
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  14. Silver Surfer

    Silver Surfer Well-Known Member

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    2,336
    watta beauty, susan. so many thanx for post the pix and info. i am so happy to see-read that the old bugger is still above ground. bless them old bones. when i have time, i will add to the care and preservation opinions.
     
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  15. SusanD

    SusanD New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Thanks, we have a few stories from his past and photos. He doesn't like to talk a lot about it but we get tidbits here and there. We also have his mini pocket journal that has notes and stuff he jotted down during the war. He is 95, lives on his own and still drives short distances (yes, I know, scary) but he is a stubborn man and I guess that is why he is still alive and kicking.
    This whole conditioning thing is so confusing, one site will say DON'T use animal products because of one reason or another but to use beeswax or anything that contains silicone. Another site says don't use wax based products but to use oils like mink, coconut or neatsfoot. And yet another says to apply a leather binding agent (several coats)before you condition it. UGH.....
     
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  16. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,539
    My suggestion is to talk with some of the guys here who actually do art work like this on A2 jackets. We have a few of them around here, although I’m not sure why they haven’t popped up yet with their inputs . Come on guys how about helping the lady out. This is an awesome artifact that needs a little help;)
     
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  17. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    600
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Thanks for the photos! Yes Susan the jacket was made by the S.H. Knopf company in 1942. Some of the A-2's had the MFG name printed on the label and some did not. The maker is known by the contract number.

    This is a rare contract with not as many jackets made as other contracts, so the value is more than the average A-2 jacket. The patches, paint, and the provenance of knowing the original owner it was issued to also greatly increases the value. I'm sure it is priceless to your family but just wanted to inform you of this.

    Regards,
    Jay
     
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  18. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

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    1,531
    That is a beautiful jacket!

    I would stop where you are at as far as putting anything more on it. The suggestion to not fold it is a good one, and the paint looks fine. One problem with putting something on top of the paint that is for leather is it can get under the paint and actually start to loosen it. The museum people sometimes carefully use a clear preservative over the paint. It is to help the paint stay on, not to help the leather. But you have to consider they are preserving for longterm display, not wear...and they have years of expertise and the highly specialized products.

    As far as leather products that have silicone, binding agents, mink, coconut or neatsfoot oils...or anything made for new leather...NO! If you have lightly used some Picards, then stop there. Remember, this jacket has made it all these years and is in nice shape with minimal care, so you don't need to do anything.

    The "what to put on old leather" is an age old debate. Many of the people on this Forum regularly wear their 70+ leather jackets, and in that case you do need to keep conditioning them. However, most collectors err on the "do nothing" side of the equation. Read post #9 in the thread below. The writer is one of the leading collectors and dealers in high end military items in the US, and is a frequent appraiser on the Antique Road Show TV Show. He is a very nice fellow, and I think would happily answer your question...but it is pretty clear what his answer will be.

    http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/for...76185-conditioner-for-leather-flight-jackets/
     
  19. SusanD

    SusanD New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Thanks for that info Jay. Very interesting about the make. And it is priceless to our family, we want to be able to pass this down the line to the next generation, but maybe should have it appraised for insurance sake.
     
  20. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,531
    You could get an appraisal from the fellow I mentioned in the link above. He is a licensed appraiser.

    It is very hard to appraise jackets like yours from pictures. The hole hurts it a little, but the missing leather name tag hurts it more...maybe you still have that somewhere. Depending of the exact details one can judge in person, I think this jacket would be worth in the $3000 to $6000 range, with $4000 to $4500 a pretty close guess. However, that assumes it is in sound original condition, and doing more "preservation" will likely make it worth less than more....especially a few years from now when there is a greater possibility of the preservative aging and maybe causing negative effects.

    That said, I think it is probably hard to actually insure a jacket like this. The point to know, is what you have is valuable, and that needs to be passed on with the jacket. Over the years I have seen too many great jackets go to grand children that wore them like they were something from the Mall. I remember a friend of a girl I knew in College that had her father's leather jacket...patched and painted much like yours, but from the 14th AAF that the girl wore to parties...until she lost it. That would probably be a $4000 jacket today too.
     

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