Coach varnish

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A glossy, enamel-like varnish used on carriages and early automobiles. Several formulations have been used for coach varnishes. English coach varnishes were made from light color copal resins dissolved in linseed oil (Doerner 1934). By the 18th century, the standard practice was to seal the carriage wood with a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine then burnish the surface with a fine brick dust on a cork rubber (Rowland and Riley 1981). The finish was then built up with hand rubbed layers of shellac and oil. Coach varnish was replaced in the 1920's by spray lacquer finishes (Mayer 1969).

Synonyms and Related Terms

vernis pour voitures (Fr.); barniz para carruajes (Esp.)

Resources and Citations

  • M. Doerner, The Materials of the Artist, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1934
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981

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