Standen

What goes on behind the scenes at Standen House, an Arts & Crafts family home

Collections care: inventory marking

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This week, the House Team have been working in the Kitchen, inventory marking some of the collection.

Kitchen at Standen

The House Team have been inventory marking some of the objects from Standen’s Kitchen this week

Each object in Standen’s collection has its own unique inventory number, which helps to clearly identify objects and is useful for our conservation records, as well as keeping track of items if ever they’re moved to another location.

Inventory marking kit

The inventory marking kit

The method that we use for inventory marking allows the number to be removed if necessary, without causing any damage.

First of all, we clean the area where we will be marking with a brush, or wipe with acetone. On most objects – especially if the surface is porous, such as an unglazed ceramic – a base coat of clear varnish is applied. It can take several hours for the varnish to dry completely, so patience is required! When the varnish is dry, the inventory number is written on in small but legible figures. We use an ink pen with a very fine nib and mark in black or white ink, or use oil alkyd or acrylic paint. Good eyesight and a steady hand are definitely needed – and having neat hand writing helps! The final stage is to apply a top-coat of varnish when the ink or paint has dried.

Inventory marking

Here, Hannah is having a go at inventory marking one of Standen’s many blue and white dinner plates

Although the process itself is fairly simple, waiting for varnishes to dry can be quite time consuming. In addition, there are often old inventory numbers or labels that needed to be carefully removed, so even marking a small number of objects can take quite some time!

Inventory marking

A newly inventory marked plate. On the left, in greenish ink, is an old inventory mark, which will be removed

When we’ve finished in the Kitchen, we’ll move on to the Dining Room to continue marking the vast collection of blue and white plates that are on display.

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Author: Hannah Severn

I'm a trainee Conservation & Interpretation Assistant at Standen, a National Trust Arts & Crafts house and garden in West Sussex.

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