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1 st post general questions
02-16-2008, 06:43 PM,
1 st post general questions
Hello, this is my first post.  My dad has a very nice sea shell collection that was my grandparents (Charles & Violet Hertweck) and I am posting questions for him.  My grandparents have their shells identified and put in a small box with a little index card that has the species name and I believe which year and location of the find/purchase.  Most of the shells have what appears to be a thin foam that they rest on.  We have some shells that do not have this "foam" and were wondering if there anything special about the foam.  Also if there is anything that we need to avoid putting the shells on or near.  Like chemicals in plastic or foam.  The shell collection was in our house and we had a house fire.  The shells were fine and my dad went through and cleaned most of them up, from the dirt because when had to store them while the house was rebuilt.  What should we clean them with?  Is there something we can put on the shells, like a wax or something to protect them more?  Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated, as we would like to keep this collection as nice as possible for the years to come and keep this in the family for generations to come.

02-22-2008, 10:50 AM,
1 st post general questions
Did I word my question wrong, or break a forum rule?  I just have a few questions to get my grandparents sea shell collection back to the state that they would have wanted it to be preserved in.  My son is really starting to get interested in the shells, and I want them to be preserved as much as possible.  My grandparents loved their shell collection and has many honors and awards for their work.  If their is another forum that I can get my answers from, please let me know.  From reading other posts the board members seem friendly..  <span class="petit">--Last edited by Jonathan H on 2008-02-22 01:52:15 --</span>
02-23-2008, 10:10 AM,
1 st post general questions
Hi Jonathan, sorry,I only just looked at the forum for the first time for a few days.
High density plastic foam is fine but do not use foam rubber as it has a tendency to liquify and make a heck of a mess! I use Blu-tack to hold small and smooth shells onto a plain black surface in drawers, rough or spiny shells go in a box with some cotton-wool to hold them steady.
As to cleaning the shells, I use ordinary soap and water (makes them smell nice too!) Sometimes you get bought some perfumed soaps for Christmas etc. that are not really to your taste, my wife and daughters often get them. Use them for your shells! I use a toothbrush for the smaller shells and a nail brush for larger ones. I use a cotton bud to get into awkward places such as apertures or between spines of Murex or Spondylus and a fine paintbrush for tiny shells.
After they have been washed I leave them to dry thoroughly, a day or two in a warm place. All this washing does remove some of the natural oils from the shells , so the next job is a light coating of mineral or, preferably, baby oil. Leave this to soak in for a few hours then buff up with a soft cloth to remove any excess oil. With Murex etc. use a paintbrush to get between the spines and a paper towel to do likewise to remove the oil. You can even oil 'chalky' shells such as those found on the beach but it takes longer to soak in and sometimes needs two or three coats. Do not overdo it with the oil though as it can get sticky and horrible  if left on thick. Once the shells are all cleaned and oiled be sure to keep them in the dark as strong light will fade the colours, even artificial light will do it after a length of time
As a last note, if the shells got very hot it may have faded some of the colours. I know this as I work in a museum that had a fire several years ago and a lot of the burnt shells were very faded.
Hope this is of some use,
P.S. Be patient with this forum as some folks only check it once a week or so.

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