Museum Textile Services recently completed the conservation of a war bond banner that will be featured in the Manchester Historic Association's fall exhibit, "It's Showtime! A History of Manchester's Theaters," on view from September 17 through December 19, 2016.
According to the National WWII Museum website, the US Treasury produced a series of war bonds that Americans could purchase during the war. A war bond cost $18.75 and ten years later could be redeemed for $25, making it an investment in both the country's and the buyer's future. Posters and other advertisements such as the Manchester banner could be seen everywhere. Celebrities participated widely in the effort to encourage sales of war bonds—war-time shows by Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, and Marlene Dietrich are still legendary.
Ipswich, Massachusetts, paintings conservator Lisa Mehlin then took the banner to her studio, where she carefully laid down flaking paint and infilled the top corners using a product called BEVA Gesso. The infills were toned to match the surrounding area using acrylic paints. Lisa also painstakingly coated a dozen rare-earth magnets with enamel paint so that they will be camouflaged against the variegated tones of the weathered banner when used to display the banner.
In a side-by-side comparison of the top-right corner before and after conservation, it is clear how much work was done to clean, flatten, consolidate, back, infill, and tone this area of damage. Without the combined efforts of textile and paintings conservators, this banner would hot have been suitable for inclusion in the exhibition. Thanks to all who contributed to this satisfying project.