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Not all projects a Conservator faces challenge their practical skills as much as others, but this doesn't necessarily make them any less rewarding. This was certainly true of this 2013 project, which involved some of the oldest objects WHConservation have worked on to date. These two silver coins were owned by a private client, who believed them to be Tudor (1485-1603). The brief to WHConservation was to investigate, clean and repackage the coins, which had hitherto been stored together in a simple plastic sleeve.


 Tudor groat of Henry VIII after conservationTudor penny of Henry VIII after conservation


The practical conservation treatment of the objects was a straightforward process of cleaning with a mild, conservation-grade detergent solution to remove some of the natural silver patina. Nevertheless, the cleaning was approached in the same careful and thoughtful way as with all objects in our care. In this particular case it was important that the coins be treated to a level where their details were more visible, but that they not be made too clean through removal of all traces of the black patina, since this could both irreversibly change the surface of the metal, and make the coins appear so new that their authenticity could be questioned.


Whereas the conservation techniques required were limited, the unique element of this project was the research which went into building up a more comprehensive picture of the objects' history. Using a combination of study centre resources, expert input and research into other similar coins, Woodhurst were able to prove that the coins did indeed date from the reign of Henry VIII, the smaller one being a penny dated 1526-1544 and the larger a groat dated 1544. Furthermore, cleaning of the fragmentary inscriptions showed that some of the letters had been inscribed into the coin punch the wrong way around (a letter E, for instance, was found to be aligned with the 'spine' of the letter on the right hand side), indicating that these low-value coins had perhaps been manufactured by an illiterate Tudor craftsman.


This project, though relatively uncomplicated, was very interesting indeed and is a good example of the varied skills and services which we can offer to you or your organisation.



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