Would you park your 1923 Duesenberg on the street instead of in your garage, or take your brand new Aston Martin to an automated car wash? I hope not. Select treasures, both old and new, demand attention – no matter what they are.
Cleaning and maintaining the condition of a wooden globe, whether it is an authentic antique or a vintage replica, requires diligence and know-how. You may think you don’t need to be as careful with a reproduction as with a 16th or 17th century original, but this is not necessarily so. High quality replica wooden globes and bar globes are usually made by skilled craftsmen who have been using many of the same methods and materials for thousands of years, so proper maintenance is important.
How to Clean Your Antique Wooden Globe
Inspect your globe before cleaning it and proceed only if there is no damage or weak spots.
To remove dust, wipe the surface gently using a soft, dry cloth. Don’t use spray or furniture polish. If you notice areas that are beginning to peel, have it repaired. The cloth can catch one of these areas and make matters worse.
If your antique needs more than a bit of dusting, here’s my 2-step, easy-to-follow instructions on how you should clean it: 1) Don’t 2) Find an experienced, reputable conservator to clean and/or restore it.
The web has many suggestions about how to clean antiques written by people claiming to be specialists. Unfortunately many people ruin their cherished treasures by following their advice. Improper cleaning can destroy the map on an antique globe, so make sure any “specialists” you consult really do know what they’re doing.
Professional conservators can do quite a bit. They can retouch and stabilize it and repair the shell. If the map has missing or damaged pieces, these can often be replaced with printed reproductions that are tinted to match the rest. Sometimes conservators can even reduce or even reverse discoloration and yellowing.
How to Clean Your Vintage Globe Replica
High quality vintage-style replica globes need to be cleaned just as carefully as authentic antiques, because more than likely the map of your wooden globe will have been made in a similar manner. This consists of using printed pieces of paper called paper gores, adhering them to the shell, and then varnishing them.
Inspect your globe before cleaning. To dust, gently wipe the surface with a soft, dry cloth. If you see peeling or weak spots, have it repaired first – cloth can get caught on one of these areas and increase the damage.
If dusting is insufficient, clean the surface of the globe with a dry, soft cloth. Work in small sections, wiping away (don’t scrub) loose dirt. For excessive stains, try moistening a soft cloth with plain water but be very careful. Read the section below, because sometimes some dirt or stains are preferable to a damaged globe.
Wring the cloth out extremely well or spray water onto the cloth (never onto the globe). The strength of varnish has come a long way over the centuries, but that doesn’t mean your globe is completely sealed and waterproof. Excess moisture left on the surface may be soaked up by the map, so don’t allow any water to sit on the surface. Dry the area immediately with a soft, clean cloth.
If this still isn’t enough, you can risk mixing the water with a bit of mild soap or detergent and repeating the steps above. Cleaning without causing damage depends on how careful you are, what potentially harmful materials are in the detergent, and how well your globe reproduction or bar globe replica has been manufactured. Never use harsh or abrasive materials or solutions containing alcohol or solvents.
Tips on Care
o Keep your globe out of direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure can fade the colors and print of the map, as well as darken and yellow the varnish applied over the paper gores.
o Do not use any abrasive or harsh detergents, as well as solutions with alcohol or solvents, while cleaning your globe. Avoid even using water if gentle cleaning with a dry, soft cloth will suffice.
o If any section of your globe is beginning to peel or already has, or if you see weak spots or surface damage on the shell, bring it to a professional conservator immediately.
o Keep your globe, especially an antique, in an environment where relative humidity and temperature do not fluctuate a great deal. Many materials used to craft vintage globes and replicas are sensitive to changes in climate.
Proper care is obviously essential for preserving the condition of an antique. However, careful maintenance of a vintage replica can help to ensure that a globe made in the 21st century survives to be an antique in the next.