French varnish

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A brand name for a metal lacquer used in the late 19th century (Proctor 1905). French varnish was composed of sandarac dissolved in ethanol and plasticized with a nondrying oil (castor oil or lavender oil) (Toch 1931). It was applied to heated metal at a temperature of about 100 degrees. This minimized the formation of haze due to moisture. French lacquer was used for brass goods, such as lamp bases, clock movements, spittoons and bedsteads.

See also French polish.

Additional Information

° C. Proctor, "The Compounding and Mixing of Modern Lacquers and Their Uses" reprinted in Conservation & Technology 2/85 from The Metal Industry, August 1905.

° M. Toch, Paint, Paintings and Restoration. D.Van Nostrand, New York, 1931.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Polymer Handbook, Sealants and Adhesives
  • Maximilian Toch, Paint, Paintings and Restoration, D. Van Nostrand, New York, 1945

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