Original recipes for black military Leather-Lacquer

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
For paints, VT gives an enamel gloss and strengthens the paint film. It is also used in violin varnish. I would expect that for horses, it would be used to shine up hooves for show. For our purposes I would expect that it provides shine and strength to the shellac. I have had problems with finish wrinkling due to cold or heat, one of the reasons why I am buying these ingredients.
 

Sandmann

Well-known member
Just because we discussed it in another post, I found another receipt for military black.
Chemisch-Technisches Rezepttaschenbuch, Page 146 (Author: Alvin Engelhardt / Year 1893)
https://books.google.de/books?id=zp...k seite 146 chemisch-technisches 1893&f=false
Prussian Military-Black to polish Leather:
40 parts of Borax
12 parts of Shellac
10 parts of Nigrosine
800 parts of Water

and another one to polish Helmets and Cartridge hangers (same book, same page):
Prepare a saturated solution of bleached shellac in gasoline. Add Nigrosine to make it deep black. Next, let the lacquer settle. The finished lacquer (attention: it‘s flammable) will be applied carefully and evenly thinly by using a soft sponge.
When repainting, the old lacquer is previously sanded off with pumice. The paint generally dries quickly and gives a pitch black sheen.
 

Naprawiacz

Well-known member
Hello everyone.Today I got this recipe: yellow beeswax 40g

powdered mastic 25g

rosin powder 30g

shoemaker's tar 10g

Syrian asphalt 25g

hard all ingredients grind thoroughly

in the first vessel dissolve the first four ingredients

Dissolve the asphalt in the second vessel and pour it from the first vessel into the second

to make it more difficult add 3-4 parts of sheep or beef tallow for 5 parts

you can also add shellac instead of rosin

It is dissolved in turpentine.
 

Sandmann

Well-known member
Dear Naprawiacz,
thank you for your additonal recipe, but would you please add the contemporary source? Intention of this post was to conserve original recipes of Pickelhaube-Lacquers, from the time of manufacturing. I believe that these helmets are history and when restored, they should be restored as original as possible. That's why I started this post, to help that restorations could be as contemporary as possible. It's not just the look of the helmet which should be conserved. Thank you again.
 

Naprawiacz

Well-known member
Dear Sandmann, the recipe comes from a German art restorer born before the war, who was told the recipe by his father, who worked around 1910 in some manufacture. After the war he stayed in Poland and worked as a professional art restorer.That's all I know,but I will try to find out more.Regards Wojtek.
 

Naprawiacz

Well-known member
The backing recipe from Sandy was slightly modified.Paper glue was mixed with wood glue and water was added.The whole thing was mixed and black from the vine was added.Three layers were applied with a paint roller.The polish scraped off the helmet was dissolved in spirit and applied with a paint roller and polished with pumice stone dust.
 

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Sandmann

Well-known member
Hmm, looks like this recipe was not successful because there is no shiny finish. Sorry for that, but thank you for testing.
Was it the last one?
 

Naprawiacz

Well-known member
Sandy the photos show the primer for the actual polish.This is what the structure looks like after painting with the original shellac from pickelhaube mixed in spirit,
 

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Sandmann

Well-known member
Ah ok, I thought the left picture shows the polished finish :eek: . In this case the result looks great, well done (y)
Wojtek, have you also seen the variations of the leather lacquers below my last recipe, on the following pages? Very interesting with wax or Asphalt to get a slightly thicker consistency.
 

Naprawiacz

Well-known member
Sandy we are using your 1845 recipes with a colleague.We are testing three recipes and the results are promising.When we finish testing I will do a full description and send you pictures.Regards
Wojtek
 

Nickc

Active 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.
This may help with the drying problem, the mix not setting after a week is a common problem with finishing wooden gunstocks and grips, the mix is not disimilar: linseed oil stanined with alkanet root, beeswax heated until all dissolved then allowed to cool. You ended up with a substance like very thick boot polish but can still be appiled by cotton rag or soft brush. You work this well into the wood and a week later you polish it with as cloth and it all come off, the grain is no longer filled. The solution is a liquid called Terbene Driers, I am not sure if it is called the same on the other side of the pond, search engines should provide the answer. You a 1%-2% of the Terbene Driers too much will cause finishes to crack prematurely, and a week later you finsih will be hard. For gunstocks you build the layers up slowly, and eventually you end up with that deep grained oiled fininsh. I hope this helps
 

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks very much for that suggestion Nick, I will hunt that down on the net and give it a try. I have no problem with the 1876 formula other than the issues mentioned. I was actually going to make a post here asking any of our wood worker members or refinishers for some advice. Your gun stock formula fits and the application of multiple thin layers is exactly what has to be done on a helmet. The whole refinish issue on helmets requires time and extreme patience! Straightening out a caved in helmet top involves wetting the area which in turn often results in lost finish. Then we see helmets where the shellac has just flaked off over 100 years. I have also not forgotten about the cabinet photo area request. I will get it done.
 
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Sandmann

Well-known member
Thank you all for participating and testing. Unfortunately, due to physical limitations, I can't work much by myself. That's why I'm happy when my research pays off :)(y)
 

b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
I have sourced Nick’s product suggestion on the net. In the US where I am at present.....Japan Drier sold by Klean Strip. I have bought a can to give it a try.
 

gardehusar

Member
Restauration of a Children Säbeltasche :

I have used black shellac
and used black pigment as a substitute for Aniline black, 2 parts Mastic (Mastix), 1 part Sandarak, 1 parts Venetian turpentine (Venetian turpentine), 1 part castor oil (castor oil) from the artist supply plus 2 parts Mastic (Mastix), 1 part Sandarak, 1 parts Venetian turpentine (Venetian turpentine), 1 part castor oil (castor oil). The bag was a little too shiny so I broke the shine with 1000 sandpaper and oil. The varnish has unfortunately become very hard it lacks elasticity here. But I find good result!
 

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