A reliquary box arrived at Orbis in very poor condition, heavily corroded and covered in a thick layer of grime. The box also had significant structural issues; the lid was detached, and the applied decorative metal work was loose and buckled.
Firstly, we removed all the metal elements from the box. The metal had become extremely brittle and fragile, so straightening the metal work turned out to be a very delicate and time-consuming process. The hinge which held the lid had suffered significant damage. The central metal pin had sheared off in segments, becoming stubbornly fused into the corroded barrel. The removal of this pin proved to be the most challenging part of the work. Lubricant was repeatedly applied to the hinge sections to aid the removal of the pieces of broken pin, which were then eased free by gently tapping a slightly smaller pin through the barrel.
The hinge was then repaired using a new brass rod and the lid was reattached. Where the ornamental feet and metal elements had become loose, lost fixing pins were replaced with new brass tacks that had been toned using patinating liquid. We gave the box a thorough surface clean to remove decades of ingrained dirt from the surface and from the fragile original glass panels. The client was keen to preserve the patina of the metal-work so we were judicial in our removal of corrosion. Once cleaned and repaired the box looked cared for whilst retaining the appearance of age appropriate to this distinctive and interesting object.