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Assessing the physical state of the Fore-topsail of HMS Victory

Assessing the physical state of the Fore-topsail of HMS Victory
Assessing the physical state of the Fore-topsail of HMS Victory
Marine textiles form a vital part of our cultural heritage. Some extant sails and surviving sail fragments in museum collections are hundreds of years old. The Victory sail, from the early 19th century, was not only subject to the ravages of the marine environment during its working life but has since suffered further deterioration during storage and display.
To determine the optimum protocol for future conservation, display and storage, it was essential to determine its current physical state. The physical properties of sailcloth are influenced by a number of factors, many of which relate to its complex hierarchical structure. The Victory sail is composed of linen, a bast fibre comprised of cells reinforced with fibrillar microcrystalline cellulose within hemicellulose and pectin matrices. Lignin serves to cement aggregates of these ‘ultimate’ cells together.
At the higher levels of the hierarchy, fibre bundles are spun together as yarns, which in turn form the weave structure of the cloth. To assess the current state of these fibres, physical properties of yarns from the Victory sail and appropriate surrogate materials were determined. Additional destructive tests on surrogates suggested a good correlation between the characteristics of individual yarns and of the bulk sailcloth. As a result it was possible to suggest loading limits for the Victory sail. Further non-destructive slippage tests performed directly on the sail also proved crucial to informing decisions on appropriate arrangements for display.
Examination by electron microscopy revealed a variety of features that correlated with the mechanical data: defects and defibrillation were apparent in the more highly degraded specimens, as were surface debris and evidence of mould growth. When ruptured fibres were investigated, it was found that fractures appeared to propagate in a manner that could be linked to the degree of deterioration.
linen, deterioration, tenacity, cellulose, artificial ageing, slippage
118-125
Archetype
Garside, Paul
58b3f896-8e10-4516-af7d-2aa7c106c517
Wyeth, Paul
1ec102cc-ce1c-4b58-81dd-a8a33b559081
Janaway, R.
Wyeth, Paul
Garside, Paul
58b3f896-8e10-4516-af7d-2aa7c106c517
Wyeth, Paul
1ec102cc-ce1c-4b58-81dd-a8a33b559081
Janaway, R.
Wyeth, Paul

Garside, Paul and Wyeth, Paul (2005) Assessing the physical state of the Fore-topsail of HMS Victory. Janaway, R. and Wyeth, Paul (eds.) In Postprints First Annual Conference of the AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies, Scientific Analysis of Ancient and Historic Textiles: Informing Preservation, Display and Interpretation. Archetype. pp. 118-125 .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Marine textiles form a vital part of our cultural heritage. Some extant sails and surviving sail fragments in museum collections are hundreds of years old. The Victory sail, from the early 19th century, was not only subject to the ravages of the marine environment during its working life but has since suffered further deterioration during storage and display.
To determine the optimum protocol for future conservation, display and storage, it was essential to determine its current physical state. The physical properties of sailcloth are influenced by a number of factors, many of which relate to its complex hierarchical structure. The Victory sail is composed of linen, a bast fibre comprised of cells reinforced with fibrillar microcrystalline cellulose within hemicellulose and pectin matrices. Lignin serves to cement aggregates of these ‘ultimate’ cells together.
At the higher levels of the hierarchy, fibre bundles are spun together as yarns, which in turn form the weave structure of the cloth. To assess the current state of these fibres, physical properties of yarns from the Victory sail and appropriate surrogate materials were determined. Additional destructive tests on surrogates suggested a good correlation between the characteristics of individual yarns and of the bulk sailcloth. As a result it was possible to suggest loading limits for the Victory sail. Further non-destructive slippage tests performed directly on the sail also proved crucial to informing decisions on appropriate arrangements for display.
Examination by electron microscopy revealed a variety of features that correlated with the mechanical data: defects and defibrillation were apparent in the more highly degraded specimens, as were surface debris and evidence of mould growth. When ruptured fibres were investigated, it was found that fractures appeared to propagate in a manner that could be linked to the degree of deterioration.

Text
ARC-AnHis-Garside-118-125.pdf - Other
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More information

Published date: 2005
Venue - Dates: 1st Annual Conference of the AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies, Scientific Analysis of Ancient and Historic Textiles: Informing Preservation, Display and Interpretation, Winchester, UK, 2004-07-12 - 2004-07-14
Keywords: linen, deterioration, tenacity, cellulose, artificial ageing, slippage

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 17246
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/17246
PURE UUID: 3afe9338-4bae-4066-8511-1166834ee120

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Aug 2005
Last modified: 08 May 2020 16:32

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