I collect saint medals and now have, unfortunately, developed another collecting genre - old French award medals. I want to keep them all in good condition, especially the award medals (somehow I feel as though I have an obligation to do so that isn’t as strong with the saint medals.)
Anyway, the metal the French medals (well, and a few from other countries) are made of is fairly easy to determine - usually stamped into the side. Saint medals are another story.
Is it fairly easy for someone like me, with next to no experience, to learn how to tell various metals from one another, particularly silver from silver alloys or oxidized silver in order to clean items (the ones that *really *need it, that is) and preserve them? Or is there not much difference regardless?
Also, I’ve been reading up on bronze disease which has me scared shitless. Any sites or books that tell you definitively how to prevent, identify, and treat it? Various websites I’ve looked on disagree a bit, and I have no idea which is more credible than the others.
I also need to know how to clean bronze in general (not remove patina, though, just dirt/unaesthetic surface discoloration), since French medals do not come cheap and I can’t afford the spectacularly clean and well-preserved ones. I did my best to select ones that aren’t damaged or irreparably soiled, but like I said, I’m a complete amateur.
Any recommendations? I was thinking about contacting a local expert in metal conservation and having him or her look them all over and advise me. Is that likely to be a very expensive non-necessity?
Thank you very much.