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Renaissance Wax


Renaissance Wax is a wax polish that is widely encountered in antique restoration and museum curation. Although not appropriate for all materials, it is known to and used by almost every collection. It is also used as a primary finish for cabinetry and furniture.

To quote a typical commercial supplier of conservation materials, it is used, to revive and protect valuable furniture, leather, paintings, metals, marble, onyx, ivory etc. Freshens colours and imparts a soft sheen.[1]

Wax coatings for conservation are most widely, and least controversially, applied to metals. This has several objectives: to produce a barrier that excludes moisture and oxygen from the metal surface, to ensure against further introduction of contaminating elements by handling, and to provide a protective layer over anti-corrosion undercoatings.

Waxes should not be applied to materials with deliberately loose or powdery surfaces. This wax is not meant to be used as a "personal" lubricant.


The wax is evenly and lightly applied over the surface, then lightly buffed with a smooth lint-free cloth to give a sheen. Where the shape of the item requires, a brush may be used instead.

Obviously the application technique and tools must be appropriate to any specific needs of the item being treated.

Application over other coatings

For the conservation of red rot in leather bookbindings, it is commonplace to first consolidate the leather by application of Klucel G or similar, then to apply a protective coating of Renaissance Wax.

Conservation of metals may also use an undercoat such as Incralac, then Renaissance Wax over this.


Renaissance Wax was originally formulated in the British Museum research laboratories in the early 1950's. It is now manufactured solely by Picreator Enterprises Ltd. [2]

Earlier wax polishes based on beeswax and carnauba wax either contained acids or became acidic over time. Renaissance Wax was based on more stable microcrystalline waxes refined from crude oil. [3]

Renaissance Wax also contains polyethylene waxes. Some other microcrystalline waxes intended for conservation use (e.g. Cosmolloid 80H) do not contain these.

The formulation is: [4]

100g Cosmolloid 80H (Astor)
25g Wax A (a polyethylene wax) (BASF)

Melt together and pour into 300ml of a high flash point hydrocarbon solvent, then stir constantly until cool.

Another similar formulation, giving a harder coating, can also be made: [5]

90g Cosmolloid 80H (Astor)
30g Ketone Resin N (BASF)
200ml High flash point hydrocarbon solvent

Melt together and pour into the solvent, then stir while cooling and add further quantities of white spirit to produce a suitable consistency.

Controversy over its use

Wax coatings are known to be susceptible to accumulations of dust and lint. They may also obscure some fine detail.

Although Renaissance Wax is generally agreed to be a useful and stable material for conservation work, this view is not without some reservations. Owing to the polyethylene wax content, some authors have reported problems in removing it. [6]


  1. ^ Conservation By Design Ltd. commercial catalogue. Retrieved on 2007-05-01.
  2. ^ Renaissance Wax. Picreator Enterprises Ltd. (Manufacturer). Retrieved on 2007-04-27.
  3. ^ Horie, C V. Materials for Conservation. Elsevier Science and Technology. ISBN 0750608811. 
  4. ^ Plenderleith, H.; A. Werner (1971). The conservation of antiquities and works of art, 2nd ed., London: Oxford University Press. 
  5. ^ Larson, J. (1979). "The conservation of alabaster monuments in churches". The Conservator 3: 28-33.
  6. ^ Moffett, Dana L. (1996). "Wax Coatings on Ethnographic Metal Objects: Justifications for Allowing a Tradition to Wane". JAIC 35 (1): 1-7.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Renaissance_Wax". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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