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Roxanne Davis




Location: Texas
Joined: 05 Sep 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2012 9:56 am    Post subject: How to transport and preserve a Samurai suit of armor         Reply with quote

We inherited a Japanese suit of Samurai armor that was stashed in my father-in-law's attic for some 40 years in its original box; he and his father brought it back from WWII. The SF Museum of Asian Art told us that it does appear to be authentic and said it is from the Edo period.

We need to transport the box and suit down to Houston and we don't know where to start - meaning how to ship it without damaging it.

Also, where do we send it to be "preserved" so that displaying it in our home won't result in further damage? Overall it's in great shape but we don't want to take a chance with a loose seam or whatever.

I'l try posting some photos - we'll see if it works. All parts are present, though not presented in the photos.

In any case, any advice that you have on transporting it to Texas from Rhode Island - and on where to ship/take it for preservation/restoration would be most appreciated.

Thanks!

Roxanne



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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2012 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First off: what an extraordinary find!

Second: at first, I thought you were donating it to a museum. My mistake; I take it you are moving and wish to preserve it for display at your home?

I honestly cannot say that I know any people who restore Japanese armour in the States. I'm sure there are many who could do it in Japan, but I imagine the shipping costs back and forth, not to mention the cost of paying for restoration to boot, would be way up there. It would probably be the *best* restoration possible, on the other hand.

Then, another possibility... Make it known to various museums and such that you have this armour, and that you would be willing to loan it to them for display on condition that they restore it and that they return it to you after display. Something local to you would be ideal; that way you could always visit it when you like!

The downside of this is that, well, I don't know if there are any museums of Asian art (or Asian anything) in Houston or Texas, period. You may have to ship it someplace like San Francisco or Seattle.

Here's a question: How accurate of a restoration do you want, i.e., do you want it to be restored to its original 'like new' state from the 18th or early 19th century? Or would you be okay with just making sure that everything was in working order and strung together correctly with new cords, any rusted spots cleaned up, etc? There are a number of armour makers in the States who I'm sure would be quite interested in working on something like this... it would be quite an impressive professional credit for them.
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Roxanne Davis




Location: Texas
Joined: 05 Sep 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2012 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Jeffrey - we are very excited about it!

My husband remembered seeing it as a child but it took us days to excavate the attic to the point where it was finally uncovered. It is definitely pretty cool and seems to be in remarkable shape for its age.

Our main concern is that we want to make sure that we're not going to tear it up by putting it on display. For example, if we hung it on a stand for the Samurai armor and it turned out to have a weak piece of fabric then we could end up ripping it. It's that kind of stuff that we want to prevent; we're not particularly interested in repairing it to improve the aesthetics, if that makes sense. Part of the charm, I think, is the aging of the piece - provided that it's not something that will get worse (e.g. rust), in which case we would want to repair it.

Any ideas on folks in the U.S. who might want to do this? Or would we really be risking it?

I'll touch base with the Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston - never know Happy

Thanks so much for your help!
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Joel Scott




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 25 Mar 2011
Likes: 2 pages
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2012 7:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You need to go to Toraba.com and join the forrum. This is a place that deals in every aspect of old Japanese armor.
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Max Chouinard




Location: Quebec, Qc
Joined: 23 Apr 2008

Posts: 108

PostPosted: Thu 06 Sep, 2012 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have one of the biggest Japanese armor collection right in Dallas: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/201...spring.ece

Maybe they could help you with this.

I would recommend seeking the help of professionals. Keeping the armor in its current state is a much better course of action than giving it to an amateur which could result in serious complications. As for storing, display and transport I am pretty sure local museums could help you by giving you advice.

Maxime Chouinard

Antrim Bata

Quebec City Kenjutsu

I don't do longsword
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Roxanne Davis




Location: Texas
Joined: 05 Sep 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 06 Sep, 2012 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the tip on Toraba.com, Joel - I will definitely check them out.

Max - yes, we definitely want professionals working on this. From what I gather it is a "nice" piece and we would hate to mess it up. Will check out the Dallas link that you provided - many thanks!

Yesterday we corresponded with someone from the SF Museum of Asian Art and they suggested that (1) we have it appraised and (2) that we take it to an objects conservator (lacquer/metal) and a textiles conservator (silk, fibers) - and hopefully they can work in tandem to restore/preservre it.

Anyone know of conservators in Providence, Rhode Island or Houston, Texas? We also need a good appraiser in Providence.

You have all been so helpful - thank you so much!
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Kalle Kylmänen





Joined: 18 Jul 2010

Posts: 29

PostPosted: Thu 06 Sep, 2012 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony J. Bryant was the first thing that popped into my mind. He has studied japanese armouring in Japan for several years. From his website (that has probably not been updated since 2004?)
Quote:
Primarily, I am a Japanese historian, with a focus on Kamakura, Muromachi, and Momoyama period warrior culture, but I also have a strong interest in Heian-period court structure and society. Additionally, I enjoy Japanese literature — especially historical and court literature. I hold an MA in Japanese (my thesis was a translation of a 15th-century tale) from Indiana University. I am also the author of four books for Osprey Military Publishing on samurai history, co-author of Sengoku (a role-playing game set in feudal Japan), and a member of the Nihon Katchû Bugu Kenkyû Hozon Kai (Japan Society for Arms and Armour Research and Preservation). Currently I’m gainlessly unemployed, looking for someone who recognizes talent when they see it and who might hire me on to teach or edit. Occasionally, I have been known to help makers of theatrical productions and documentaries having Japanese themes.
I guess It wouldn't hurt to shoot an email into his direction. I have no idea how busy he is these days, but he might have some insight.
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Roxanne Davis




Location: Texas
Joined: 05 Sep 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 06 Sep, 2012 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fabulous - thanks Kalle.

I will google Anthony J. Bryant to see if I can find him.
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 804

PostPosted: Sat 08 Sep, 2012 1:34 am    Post subject: Re: How to transport and preserve a Samurai suit of armor         Reply with quote

Roxanne Davis wrote:


We need to transport the box and suit down to Houston and we don't know where to start - meaning how to ship it without damaging it.

Also, where do we send it to be "preserved" so that displaying it in our home won't result in further damage? Overall it's in great shape but we don't want to take a chance with a loose seam or whatever.

Roxanne, to ship or transport just pack the wood armor storage box (with the armor inside) in a larger cardboard shipping box, your local shipping service should be able to pack it appropriately for you, antique armors are regularly shipped from Japan to the U.S. this way.

As for restoration, the armor you pictured is not of great historical value and even if you could find someone qualified to do it the cost would far out weigh the value of the armor. To display it you would need the right kind of armor stand for Japanese armor and the most important thing would be to keep it out of sun light as the lacquer is subject to deterioration from uv rays.
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Roxanne Davis




Location: Texas
Joined: 05 Sep 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat 08 Sep, 2012 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Eric S. Happy

What are your "indicators" that it is not of great historical value? Just curious, not offended at all.

As for UV. . .naturally our home is pretty much one big glass windowbox. If we have our windows coated with some sort of UV "stuff" will that be sufficient?
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 804

PostPosted: Wed 19 Sep, 2012 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roxanne Davis wrote:
Thanks Eric S. Happy

What are your "indicators" that it is not of great historical value? Just curious, not offended at all.

As for UV. . .naturally our home is pretty much one big glass windowbox. If we have our windows coated with some sort of UV "stuff" will that be sufficient?


Sorry for the late reply, when looking at restoration of Japanese armor you have to decide if the value of the item is worth the cost, in the case of your armor as well as most Japanese armors seen today it would just not be worth having any extensive lacquer restoration done, high grade armors worth tens of thousands of dollars may be worth the cost, relacing lessor quality armors may be worth the effort if you can find someone who has the appropriate experience. Japanese lacquer is a very costly and time consuming restoration if you could even find someone who knows how to do it in the correct manner and in most cases would not ever be worth the cost. Of course if you have unlimited funds or paid very little for an armor that may change the equation.

If you want to display your armor I would suggest at least covering it with a dark cloth to keep direct sun light off of it as much as possible when not being viewed, sunlight can degrade both lacquer and fabric.

Here is a link were you can see some higher grade samurai armors to compare.
http://www.facebook.com/shogunart.samurai
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Joshua Spencer




Location: Plano, TX
Joined: 08 Aug 2012

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu 20 Sep, 2012 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I need to give my master smith a call today so I'll ask him if he knows anyone who has experience with Japanese armor. We both live up in the Dallas area but he has a shop at the Texas Ren Fest in Houston, so he's fairly familiar with the folk down there.
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Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Sep, 2012 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please note the difference between "conservation" and "restoration".
http://www.helium.com/items/119495-art-conser...estoration
Stabilizing and preserving the piece in it's current state should be significantly cheaper and more locally accessible than using historical techniques to make the piece as-new. Every museum has conservators. I would think that very few have dedicated experts in the techniques required for restoration. In your shoes, I'd see if the Dallas conservators would be willing to do the former.

As for display, one thing you'll see with some Western fabric armours is stabilization by stitching them to an appropriate modern fabric support.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Roxanne Davis




Location: Texas
Joined: 05 Sep 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 20 Sep, 2012 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks all!

Just last night a conservator from a university museum near Providence contacted us about working on the piece so we're going to look into that option as well. Ideally we'd love to have it done either in Providence or in Houston. . .but we're also considering a (museum) conservator that we found in San Francisco.

I am definitely in the mode of "conserve" vs "restore" - we like the fact that it is old, and looks old Happy
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 804

PostPosted: Fri 21 Sep, 2012 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Without adequate images of all parts front and back it is hard to see exactly what needs to be restored/conserved but from the images available I see no real damage to the cloth and lacing, just some chipping/cracking of lacquer on the menpo and kabuto but nothing out of the ordinary for these types of items. As a side note, Japanese armor items would have originally been packed with each item in its own separate cloth bag for protection, these are rarely seen now. I do see that the kabuto has one ''Fukigaeshi'' (wing or ear like projections) that is missing, this would be extremely difficult to have replaced.

Here is a link to an article detailing the restoration/conservation efforts by one museum on a Japanese armored vest (manchira) as an example of what is involved with such an effort.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:YGUCsMIhbRMJ:www.icom-cc.org/54/document/from-historic-interiors-to-the-conservation-studio-a-route-to-knowledge-of-a-japanese-multi-material-textile-from-the-stibbert-museum-in-florence/%3Faction%3DSite_Downloads_Downloadfile%26id%3D790+manchira&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShjFvK4R-4c1yfGDzps2HBn8NG8U-rLu3KoNzqaLYiUMxhueXByyTzGiRD7PvwZBJnHxUrRbjGez_Exc4_xLd31mLJWpws7F4dsdEEXe4w-t8kfbSTqAFFlhhJxnqcW9gx0GWA9&sig=AHIEtbRwGfo2CyVcGsdUfXfRMKDvxlBDPQ



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David Thatcher




Location: UK - Northants
Joined: 04 Nov 2012

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun 04 Nov, 2012 1:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric S wrote:
Without adequate images of all parts front and back it is hard to see exactly what needs to be restored/conserved but from the images available I see no real damage to the cloth and lacing, just some chipping/cracking of lacquer on the menpo and kabuto but nothing out of the ordinary for these types of items. As a side note, Japanese armor items would have originally been packed with each item in its own separate cloth bag for protection, these are rarely seen now. I do see that the kabuto has one ''Fukigaeshi'' (wing or ear like projections) that is missing, this would be extremely difficult to have replaced.

Here is a link to an article detailing the restoration/conservation efforts by one museum on a Japanese armored vest (manchira) as an example of what is involved with such an effort.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:YGUCsMIhbRMJ:www.icom-cc.org/54/document/from-historic-interiors-to-the-conservation-studio-a-route-to-knowledge-of-a-japanese-multi-material-textile-from-the-stibbert-museum-in-florence/%3Faction%3DSite_Downloads_Downloadfile%26id%3D790+manchira&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShjFvK4R-4c1yfGDzps2HBn8NG8U-rLu3KoNzqaLYiUMxhueXByyTzGiRD7PvwZBJnHxUrRbjGez_Exc4_xLd31mLJWpws7F4dsdEEXe4w-t8kfbSTqAFFlhhJxnqcW9gx0GWA9&sig=AHIEtbRwGfo2CyVcGsdUfXfRMKDvxlBDPQ


Just to support Eric.
Forget Toraba, the site is 99% dead in the water.
Japanese urushi, Lacquer will be damaged by any UV source. You would need to display it in a dark, humid environment. The photo's reflect that the armour is Edo, and that it has some damage. The helmet and face mask are worth just under £2,000 so don't think you have a rubbish item, but it's not the best either.

Due to the nature of ururishi it is very difficult to conserve. I'd doubt many museums would have a clue, hence why they commission people like myself. The problem with lacquer is this. What you see on the surface as a shinney paint finish is not what it really is. There is a layer between the metal and surface coat that is made from Wheat/Clay and raw lacquer. Think of the upper layer as being plastic that nothing will stick too.

Over time the armour will sustain small cracks, this will occur even in storage as the temperature expands and contracts the iron, moisture creeps in and destroys the middle layer, which eventually leads to de-lamination.

It was common practice back in the day for samurai to have their armours repaired and re-laced around every 30-40years.
Broken areas would be re-lacquered.

There are ways to consolidate/repair your armour, but as Eric says, its expensive. (http://www.nihon-no-katchu.com/content/1325/urushi-repair/)
My advice would be to either donate it to a museum, sell it on eBay, or if you are attached to the item, invest in a decent display stand and enjoy it.

If you require any advice, or wish to source and missing parts, or just require some help on presentation etc, I would be happy to help. The guys over on the Nihonto Message Board has a forum section, they are very helpful too.

Dave
Nihon-No-Katchu UK

Japanese Armour Restoration
Nihon-No-Katchu.com
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