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Other Materials

Organic Materials:
Organic materials are associated with the chemistry of compounds of carbons. Often times organic materials are often thought of as the byproducts living things-plants or animals. While carbon compounds are generally thought to be produced in living things, it was discovered in the nineteenth century that carbon compounds could be synthesized in the laboratory. This discovery opened a whole new door to the discovery of new useful products such as vulcanized rubber and plastic. Organic materials include those products from plants, animals, as well as various plastics.

Animal products may be divided into four types of materials: dermal, keratinous, skeletal, and other.
Dermal materials are the most common animal products used and are identified as leather or skin. Keratinous materials include silk, wool, hair, feathers, and horn. Bone, ivory, teeth, and shell are categorized as skeletal materials. Other animal products include albumins and caseins.

Leather/skin, derived from the dermal layers of animals,
is a relatively strong, flexible material used for a variety of purposes. Animal hides have been used for clothing, book bindings, parchment, belts, and shoes.

Animal products that are primarily keratinous are outgrowths of the dermal (skin) layer.
These materials are strong and flexible, easily shaped by heat and pressure. Included are horn, baleen, quill, hooves, hair, and claws. Items made of keratinous materials include clothing decoration, adornments, combs, and baskets.

Bone, antler, ivory, teeth, and shell are skeletal materials
and are highly inorganic with some organic elements like hydroxyapatite and collagen. These products are anisotropic (respond differently in different directions to the same stimulus) and very strong. In order to fabricate something from bone, antler, ivory, or teeth, the material must be carved, sawed, turned, or pierced.

Another material not listed is stone, a purely inorganic material found in nature. Stone is a crystalline mineral or a range of compositions and is used to make jewelry, utensils, weapons, sculpture, and architectural elements.



Preservation Principles

Types of Material


Types of Objects
   Books / Bibles / Scrapbooks
   Works of Art
   Textiles / Clothing / Uniforms
   Tools / Mechanical / Instruments
   Dishes / Glassware / Silverware
   Native American Items
   Natural History Specimens

More Resources
   Preservation Documents  (pdfs)
   Glossary of Terms
   See what we've done

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