At Museum Textile Services we recently received a generous donation of textiles and costumes to our study collection, most of them dating from around the very early 20th century. The MTS study collection is primarily used for teaching and research, though it also contains our founder Camille Breeze's family textile collection and a few special purchases. In this newest donation, one item stood out: a single baby bootie that showed interesting signs of deterioration.
The white kid-leather bootie has plastic buttons with metal shanks that show clear signs of corrosion. The metal buckle on the toe of the shoe is also corroded. The metal corrosion and its proximity to the plastic indicates that the button is made of a modern material that is releasing a chemical as it degrades, or off-gasses. This in turn is causing other nearby materials to deteriorate.
To learn more about modern materials in your collection, visit the Resources section of the MTS webpage for handouts and further reading.