Well not exactly at dawn, but first thing in the morning. The day had finally arrived… As this years winter cleaning schedule moved on to the West Hall, it was time to take down, inspect and clean the swords. I had secretly been looking forward to this for sometime! The first task is to set up a work station. This incorporated a table covered with acid-free paper, a ‘hogs hair’ brush, ‘Auto-Sol’ for metal cleaning, ‘Renaissance Wax’ for surface preservation and 0000 grade wire-wool. Each sword is then removed from it’s mounting on the wall, one at a time, and handed down to a colleague to be placed in order, so they can be returned in order. This is when you can get up close and personal.
After a quick brush-dusting, the rust inspection can begin. If none is detected, and thankfully this was mostly the case, a thin layer of wax can be applied to areas that might benefit from a little TLC. The few blobs of rust we did find got a dash of ‘Auto-Sol’ and a quick buff with wire wool to stop any deterioration. This is a really good excuse to marvel at the workmanship and design. Although some were dress swords and therefore more decorative than functional, it is a good point to note what that function was, so to give the object due respect as well as care and attention. (I should note at this point, that I successfully resisted the temptation to shout ‘On Guard!’ and challenge a co-worker to a duel…)