Original recipes for black military Leather-Lacquer

Sandmann

Well-known member
Last week I surfed in the Internet to get more Informations about stiching leather and painting Pickelhaubes. I’ve found a post in another Forum, where a Member stated that original Pickelhaubes-Lacquer contained not only black Shellac but soot and other things and that the knowlege of the Receipe is unfortunately going to be lost. My curiosity was piqued, so I spent some time to look for old books for original recipes of the Pickelhaubes-Lacquer.
Here is what I‘ve found, maybe it’s useful for somebody: :)
Receipe 1 (Booktitle: Gemeinnütziges Rezept-Archiv, oder: 800 entschleierte Geheimnisse by Friedrich Stobäus, Page 8 (Year 1845 / Translated by myself)
https://books.google.de/books?id=R...hiv&hl=de&pg=PA8#v=onepage&q=tschakos&f=false
Dissolve with little heat: 4 loth of good quality shellac and 1 loth of Venetian turpentine (Venezianischer Terpentin) in a half litre of good quality wine spirit (Weingeist). After completely mixing it, add lampblack (Kienruss) until the mixture is deep black.
The paint will be applied like furniture shellac with a bale or it is sprayed.

Receipe 2 (Booktitle: Technisch-Chemisches Rezept-Taschenbuch III by Dr. Emil Winckler, Page 112 (Year 1862 /Translated by myself)
https://books.google.de/books?id=l...ITjAF#v=onepage&q=schwarz militärlack&f=false
Dissolve with little heat:
1/2 pound of crushed Shellac and 3 3/4 of strongest Alcohol (Spiritus). Then add 8 loth of Venetian turpentine (Venezianischer Terpentin).
In another pot rub in 3 loth of calcined oil soot (calzinierter Ölruss) with 6 loth of turpentine oil (Terpentinöl).
Then mix both fluids and add wine spirit (Weingeist) if the consistency is not good ot oil soot if it has to be a deeper black.

Receipe 3 (Booktitle: Chemisch-Technisches Repertoirium Bd. 15 by Dr. Emil Jacobsen, Page 214 (Year 1876 /Translated by myself)
https://books.google.de/books?id=7...ajAI#v=onepage&q=schwarz militär lack&f=false
30 parts Shellac, 2 parts Mastic (Mastix), 1 part Sandarak, 1 parts Venetian turpentine (Venezianischer Terpentin), 1 part castor oil (Rizinusöl) and 145 parts wine spirit with 95% alcohol (Weingeist). Dye it with Aniline black (Anilinschwarz or Nigrosin)

The lacquers have been sprayed mostly, but soft brushes or a bale (like used for furniture Shellac) has been used too. As a primer I found out that glue water or ocher colored Linseed oil varnishes has been used. After application the primers and lacquers has been smoothed with pumice. Each coat has to dry well before next coating.

Hope my translation is correct. Feel free to add other recipes to this post. If somebody tries one out, it would be fine to know how the recipes worked in practice. That would be very nice :bravo:
 

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks very much for your research on this topic Sandy. I have been very frustrated lately with 2 refinish projects. There have been two problems: First the finish remains soft and can be dented with a fingernail despite a week of drying. Second, when subjected to a drop in temperature say from approx 70F to 50F the smooth surface wrinkles up and has to be redone. There are 3 parts to this old leather finish which I think we see in your 3 formulas....a dissolving agent to reduce the shellac flakes, a black colouring agent soot/dye and a drying agent which will harden the shellac. We know from a period photo that the shells were formed, then sprayed with finish then put in ovens to dry. The photo showed sprayed shells on racks being wheeled into a large oven type structure. The racks were like those used by bakeries when baking bread. Now, shellac flakes do have an expiry date and I would suspect that dissolved flakes would also expire. Perhaps this was part of my problem?? :? I am using a black aniline dye for colour. I intend to investigate further and eventually try to use one of these formulas to experiment.
 

Amybellars

Active member
Hmm, I am a slow learner. Stitching already took me a while to figure out and do a good job, then comes cleaning which I am still learning, so lacquering is out of the question for me. I don't even lacquer my fingernails, what's more lacquering the shells ...Way to go , way to learn for me.....
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
Brian,
Have you ever used these products?

https://www.ebay.de/itm/Pflegemittel-Leder-SCHWARZ-fur-Pickelhaube-Tschako/254389267349?hash=item3b3ac82b95:g:vKwAAOSwa39Uz747

https://www.ebay.de/itm/Wachs-fur-Reparaturen-an-Pickelhaube-Raupenhelm-Tschako-Lederscheide-etc/254389274608?hash=item3b3ac847f0:g:lkwAAOSwVL1WA2Sz

I have never purchased (or even personally seen) these products, but they are constantly advertised.

John :)
 

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
I have tried the "bar of black wax" product previously but with absolutely no positive results. I have also tried multiple applications of black shoe polish back in the 1980's to fill things in but also to no avail. polish is wax based and if you apply multiple coats it eventually cracks.
 

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
I just remembered because of a series of interactive emails I had with a member a couple of weeks back....he suggested using Weldbond to replace finish. Twenty years ago...I was trying epoxy resin glue with black poster paint powder mixed in for colour! :D. The salad days of my youth! The mention of "lamp black" in two of these recipes reminded me of this as did his Weldbond suggestion. At present, I have ordered all of the 1876 ingredients locally and on line. Not surprisingly, these lead one to artists and violin makers. :)
 

ww1czechlegion

Well-known member
Yes, lampblack, the soot from inside the glass chimneys on old kerosene lamps? Is it available commercially? I too have heard talk of "lampblack" in old text and didn't know if it was available commercially back in those days, nor did I understand how they would have used it.

Thanks Brian!

Best Wishes,

Alan
 

Sandmann

Well-known member
b.loree said:
I just remembered because of a series of interactive emails I had with a member a couple of weeks back....he suggested using Weldbond to replace finish. Twenty years ago...I was trying epoxy resin glue with black poster paint powder mixed in for colour! :D. The salad days of my youth! The mention of "lamp black" in two of these recipes reminded me of this as did his Weldbond suggestion. At present, I have ordered all of the 1876 ingredients locally and on line. Not surprisingly, these lead one to artists and violin makers. :)

Hope you’ll show us the results on your Helmet, I haven’t try it by myself :-"
I‘m really interested if on of these recipes work accurate :)
 

Sandmann

Well-known member
ww1czechlegion said:
Yes, lampblack, the soot from inside the glass chimneys on old kerosene lamps? Is it available commercially? I too have heard talk of "lampblack" in old text and didn't know if it was available commercially back in those days, nor did I understand how they would have used it.

Thanks Brian!

Best Wishes,

Alan

It’s available commercially. Most of the ingredients you can buy in a shop for chemicals or in an artist-shop. Here are 2 links where I‘ve found lampblack (sorry for german links, but I think you can translate the keywords):

https://www.pyropowders.de/sortiment/holzkohlepulver-kohlenstoff/
https://www.kunstpark-shop.de/pigmente-fuer-farben/kunstpark-pigment-100-ml-acetylen-russ.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIg_uTg9vR6gIViaztCh3kywjQEAQYASABEgJiLPD_BwE
 

pickelhauben

Well-known member
Here is another source of lamp black I believe you can get it from the UK

https://www.naturalpigments.com/lamp-black-pigment.html

Back in the day when you could not get parts on ebay I used to make my own parts including leather domes .
It was a 3 day process to soak the leather then stretch it over a form drop the whole thing in boiling water then you would have to use a band to tighten everything up.
The next day take it off of the boiling form ,powder it up and place the leather dome on another form and keep it there for another 2 weeks.
If not the leather would continue to shrink .
I learned that if you painted on black tinted shellac it would bleed through the leather so you would have to apply a clear coat of shellac to prevent that from happening.

Back in the day we would use black paint tint .
That would take a while to get hard and you would have to do at least 4 coats sanding between coats.
That was not easy because the tinted shellac was always just a little tacky.
I think that if we would known of the lamp black powder that would have let the shellac set up faster and make sanding easier .

Glad those days are behind us !!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
Well hopefully, we are going to find out as I have ordered all of the ingredients of the 1876 recipe. One of the recipes mentions "paste water" as a primer, so I will have to investigate that. Lamp black was a common ingredient for dyeing back in these days. It would be interesting to find out how they collected/made it. I can't see people running around to thousands of coal oil lamp shades and wiping out their glass chimneys . :D Anyway, I intend to work this out. :cool: Sandy, I will be using aniline dye for colour.
 

Sandmann

Well-known member
b.loree said:
Sandy, I will be using aniline dye for colour.

I’m looking forward to see the results :)
I’m sure you that the aniline dye should work as well as lamp black. I don‘t think that the lamp black will have influence to the characteristics of the dye. Guess it was a normal and a cheap pigment for a black leather color at that time.
 

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
FYI Sandy: sandarak is a tree resin from NW Africa, mastic (x) is also a plant resin, Venetian turpentine today is used on the pads of horse's hooves! I just bought a can from my local horse "tack shop". The sandarak had to be ordered from Germany, so it is going to take awhile to arrive.
 

pickelhauben

Well-known member
b.loree said:
FYI Sandy: sandarak is a tree resin from NW Africa, mastic (x) is also a plant resin, Venetian turpentine today is used on the pads of horse's hooves! I just bought a can from my local horse "tack shop". The sandarak had to be ordered from Germany, so it is going to take awhile to arrive.

Used on horse hooves ?

For what ?
 
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