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Conditioning wwii leather bomber and it's artwork

SusanD

New Member
That is a beautiful jacket!

I would stop where you are at as far as putting anything more on it. The suggestion to not fold it is a good one, and the paint looks fine. One problem with putting something on top of the paint that is for leather is it can get under the paint and actually start to loosen it. The museum people sometimes carefully use a clear preservative over the paint. It is to help the paint stay on, not to help the leather. But you have to consider they are preserving for longterm display, not wear...and they have years of expertise and the highly specialized products.

As far as leather products that have silicone, binding agents, mink, coconut or neatsfoot oils...or anything made for new leather...NO! If you have lightly used some Picards, then stop there. Remember, this jacket has made it all these years and is in nice shape with minimal care, so you don't need to do anything.

The "what to put on old leather" is an age old debate. Many of the people on this Forum regularly wear their 70+ leather jackets, and in that case you do need to keep conditioning them. However, most collectors err on the "do nothing" side of the equation. Read post #9 in the thread below. The writer is one of the leading collectors and dealers in high end military items in the US, and is a frequent appraiser on the Antique Road Show TV Show. He is a very nice fellow, and I think would happily answer your question...but it is pretty clear what his answer will be.

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/176185-conditioner-for-leather-flight-jackets/
Unclegrumpy, read the post from the link you gave and I would just leave it but it is getting stiff and don't want it to start cracking. I have it hanging on a wide shoulder hanger and think I need to slightly stuff the sleeves because they are starting to crease. Before I do anything I will contact several people one being, Shenkursk and get some additional advice.
My youngest is a big history buff (like my husband) and understands the history of the jacket and knows it's not for wearing. I can't imagine someone wearing it and then losing it. As far as the name patch, if there was one it was stolen along with some of his medals and other items when his house was broken into 20+ years ago. But there isn't any markings on the jacket like there was another patch or name tag on it. But I will ask him when we have lunch later this month.
 

unclegrumpy

Well-Known Member
Museums don't typically store jackets on hangers. If they are on display, they are often on mannequin forms of different sorts or if in storage, in drawers or large flat acid free boxes. Most collectors probably keep them either on mannequin forms or wide padded hangers. The wide hanger you are using is a good choice. The sleeves can be stuffed, but they won't flatten too much if the jacket is not packed tightly in the closet.

The name tag would have been a narrow leather strip with a first and sometimes middle initial, plus the last name stamped into it. It would have gone above the patch with joker on it...you can see the holes where one once was.

A little stiff is normal. If you already lightly treated the jacket with Picards, then that should help the stiffness. Typically, the stiffness does not lead to cracking unless the jacket has been poorly stored...meaning somewhere where it got repeatedly damp and dry or just very dry. My guess is yours has been in the house. Serious cracking generally means dry rot, but your jacket does not appear to have that.

I think this circles back to good news...meaning your jacket is probably in much better shape than you realize, and while it needs to be well cared for and respected, it does not need something more put on it.

Lastly, I think your father in law is very lucky to have someone like you to put so much thought and effort into researching this. It is hard, and not an easy task. While some of us come at these things from different angles, the one thing we agree on, is how much what all of these guys did means to us, and I think we all really appreciate that you clearly appreciate that too.
 

Silver Surfer

Well-Known Member
if the intent is to keep the jacket in good stead, there are several steps that can be taken for preservation. i am sure that i will be tagged by some here, for my heresys, but i will offer my opinion all the same. firstly, as written above, working a leather dressing into the hides is not a bad idea if the hides are stiff. i use household vaseline. it is easy use inexpensive, and does not leave a telltale sticky residue. a little bit goes a long way. make sure to avoid getting the vaseline on the knit elements, or patches, or art work on the back. the leather dressing is actually the last step in preservation. personally, i would repair the hole in the sleeve first. turning the sleeve inside out, it will require opening the liner sleeve by carefully cutting the threads [appx 6"] in the area of the hole. using book binders tape [acid free] cut a round piece about 3/8" larger the the hole, and press hard on the lined up leather flap and surrounding area. visualize this procedure before executing and you will see what i am writing about. resew the liner seam by hand as following the original process, hitting the original stitch holes [yes, you will see them]. do not tug too hard on your thread, so as to bunch up the seam. repairing the hole will prevent it from enlarging in the possible event that it gets snagged. the paint on the back appears to be enamel paint or oil paint, and there appears to be some loss and flaking. using amy's leather glue [available at crafts stores] and flat end tooth picks, you can apply a small dab of the glue to the under side of a flaked area and press down for 30 seconds. real time consuming when you do it correctly. the back art work or may not have had a final coat of varnish when originally completed. often it is hard to tell, as the varnish would be the first thing to wear away over time. you might consider a coat of semi gloss oil based [not acrylic] clear varnish brushed over the art work, using a 3/4" soft sable brush, and applied sparingly. this will bond the edges of the paint to the jacket surface, thus preventing further chipping and or flaking. when dry [24 hours], the dressing can then be applied to the exposed leather surfaces including the painted name on the front.. i would not mess with the patches, as they appear to be in very good condition as is. do not put on a hanger, ever. hangers eventually put stress on the upper areas of the jacket, sometimes to the point of tearing holes, and bulges in the upper shoulders. keep em flying.
 

SusanD

New Member
You guys are all great and I so appreciate all the advise. I am amazed that we don't really have EXPERTS with tried and true info out there. So much trial and error and with some great items of history that could be damaged to the point where we can't bring them back.
I am pleased to see so many of you who appreciate history and historic items and I hope that you can all share your love and knowledge with the youths in your lives because it seems to me we are losing the appreciation of our history with this younger generation. I have taught my kids the value and respect of antiques and historical places and items and I hope they will in-turn teach their children.
 

SusanD

New Member
Unclegrump, I thank you for the compliment, we truly support our military and have had many family members serve. It is an honor for us to keep this and preserve it along with the journals and stories he has given us. I will ask about the name patch and I also will look into a better way of storing it so not to do anymore damage to it. thx
Silver Surfer, I agree that the hole should be repaired and after closer inspection I have found a small one under the arm on the same sleeve. I, however, will not attempt this (not as brave as you are) and I will take it to someone skilled in this area. So with that, if anyone knows someone skilled in the Tampabay area of Florida, please let me know. Otherwise, I will start searching for someone familiar and skilled with vintage leather.
thanks again for the responses and help
 

Silver Surfer

Well-Known Member
many leather "restorers" will want to sew the holes shut, or...... do not allow anyone who even suggests that to touch your jacket. if the work is to be done, have it done as i suggested....no stitching, sewing, patches added over the holes. keep in mind that the materials required for the work at any level are not expensive, however the work required is labor+time intensive and that is where your money is spent. that and paying for expertise in doing the work up to museum quality. oops is not an option.
 

SusanD

New Member
many leather "restorers" will want to sew the holes shut, or...... do not allow anyone who even suggests that to touch your jacket. if the work is to be done, have it done as i suggested....no stitching, sewing, patches added over the holes. keep in mind that the materials required for the work at any level are not expensive, however the work required is labor+time intensive and that is where your money is spent. that and paying for expertise in doing the work up to museum quality. oops is not an option.
I have printed out your post and will follow your info.
 

johnwayne

Well-Known Member
Hi Susan, I'm not in a position to offer advice and you certainly seem to have plenty anyway but I just wanted to say thank you for posting pics of your father in laws jacket, a wonderful thing to have and a lasting tribute to Denne and his peers, you and your family must be very proud but please pat him on back from everyone on this forum! If I lived nearby he'd never have to buy himself a beer, I'd see to that!! Do you know where he served during the war? I'm sure virtually everyone on this forum is in awe of both him and, his jacket!!!
 

SusanD

New Member
Hi Susan, I'm not in a position to offer advice and you certainly seem to have plenty anyway but I just wanted to say thank you for posting pics of your father in laws jacket, a wonderful thing to have and a lasting tribute to Denne and his peers, you and your family must be very proud but please pat him on back from everyone on this forum! If I lived nearby he'd never have to buy himself a beer, I'd see to that!! Do you know where he served during the war? I'm sure virtually everyone on this forum is in awe of both him and, his jacket!!!
He was in Framlingham. And thank you, I will pass on your pat on the back and buy him a beer for you!
 

Dover

Active Member
Hello Susan and welcome to the forum. Thanks for sharing a picture of your father in laws jacket. It's a beautiful piece of history and a phenomenal
family heirloom. I am sure you will find sound advice here regarding the preservation of this jacket. I would only add a heartfelt thanks to your father in law.
 

SusanD

New Member
Hello Susan and welcome to the forum. Thanks for sharing a picture of your father in laws jacket. It's a beautiful piece of history and a phenomenal
family heirloom. I am sure you will find sound advice here regarding the preservation of this jacket. I would only add a heartfelt thanks to your father in law.
Thank you Dover....a lot of great people on here with advice as to the care and preservation. Thank you, I will pass on your heartfelt thanks to my FIL.
 

dmar836

Well-Known Member
Susan,
I will pile on in thanks for sharing this great piece of history. In my opinion, the reason so little “expert” opinion can be found is that “experts” either want to sell their care products and/or services or even add items to their collections whereas the truthful advice is much less dynamic and much less discussed. To do nothing restorative while intentionally protecting from obvious harm(adequate ventilation, controlled humidity and temp, minimizing creases, etc.) is all that is required albeit far too passive to many. If already gone, nothing would properly bring it back but yours has not suffered from neglect and so preventing damage is all that is required. Don’t ever let anyone offer to repair areas or touch up paint. That ruins historical value pretty much categorically.
Thanks for bringing your questions here!
Dave
 

johnslemp

New Member
Hey guys!
I'm a newbie here. Wanted to let you know about a book I'm working on...about WWII "bomber jackets." To date, 120 have been photographed, including jackets from the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, the 390th Bomb Group Museum, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the National Naval Aviation Museum among others, and of course, from private collections. A sample of the work can be seen on my website: www.aerographs.com. If the veterans are still alive, I'm photographing them as well, and four video interviews have also been done, all of which are available through my blog, linked through my website. If you know of anyone who has an A-2 jacket that would like to participate, please let me know! My phone number is (404) 245-2411. In advance, Thanks!
John Slemp
Aviation Photographer
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Hi John
If you haven’t already gone there the National Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton Ohio has numerous original painted jackets.
You can do a search on this forum for Wright Patterson and you should be able to pull up several photos of jackets that are located there.
 

Anthony G Ward

New Member
New user but had to comment on this beautiful jacket. My grandfather also served with the 390th - 458th sub depot. Love the photo of him standing in front of the Liberty Belle with it on....shame the plane was lost years ago. Thanks for sharing!
 
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