Caring for your collection – Medals & Awards

As militaria dealers we not only have a passion for what we sell, we also have a great sense of duty in protecting historic military antiques. In the following series of articles we will show you how we care for our own products and personal collections, so you can preserve these historical items for years to come. In part 1 we examine the correct storage of medals and awards.

Almost all metal produced awards, with the exception of ones made from gold, are vulnerable to oxidation, corrosion and age-related damage. Moisture is the number 1 cause of corrosion on medals, therefore correct storage is an integral part of the care of military awards. Oils on your skin can also wreak havoc! By simply wearing some cheap cotton gloves, you will be doing the ageing metal a favour.

The perfect temperature

Generally speaking, your house is the perfect place to keep your medals. Avoid garages, sheds and unconverted loft/attic space. The moisture in extremely cold and damp areas can seriously damage your prized iron cross collection. Dry areas are the best bet.

Wood Cabinets

Avoid these if possible. Some types of wood, particularly MDF, can actually emit small amounts of gas that will corrode old metals.

Lacquer & Varnishes

Avoid it also. You don’t need to coat anything on your medals without seeking professional help.

Restoration

Avoid again. A damaged medal is worth more than a restored and now unoriginal one. Ribbons are acceptable to replace if necessary.

Keep those greasy hands off my KC!

Wear cotton gloves. Oils on your skin can corrode metal over time.

Cleaning

You don’t need to clean or polish any of your awards. If you insist, use a 100% cotton swab that is dry to gently remove dust. Don’t use water!! Water and metal = rust.

Keep these basic tips in practice and your medals should last for many years to come. If you have corrosion or other serious issues, your best bet is to then source a conservationist, whom may be able to help restore vulnerable medals to the original standard.

Useful Tools:

Cotton gloves – http://amzn.eu/64Vsd70