Iron Cross Restoration
Last summer, I found this Iron Cross while metaldetecting in a forest in the north Czech mountains.
The Iron Cross is a former military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later in the German Empire (1871–1918) and Nazi Germany (1933–1945). It was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars (1813). The design of the cross shape was ultimately derived from the cross pattée of the famous Teutonic Order, used by knights from the 13th century.
This particular one is an Iron Cross of the 2nd (lower) class of the sample of 1939. During the Second World War, such an award was awarded to more than 3 million German soldiers and officers.
The iron cross is really made of black painted iron. And as you know, iron is poorly stored in the ground. But this is not the first time I have restored iron finds.
So I decided “to cook” this cross in a strong citric acid (cca 20 grams of citric powder with 100 ml of water) on a slow fire for about 2 hours. From time to time I added water and cleaned the cross with a plastic brush. (I did not want to scratch the silver frame).
Silver and its alloys are not afraid of citric acid. However, as I noticed, the frame of my cross was not made of 800 silver. After 1940, due to savings, Germany became less likely to use silver in the manufacture of awards. The frame of this cross is made of Neusilber (so called “German silver”) The usual formulation is 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc.
In any case, this material also practically does not corrode in soil and acids. The iron part of the award made of thin (1.5 mm) iron often corrodes so much that it simply falls apart. I got lucky. My cross lay for 75 years in dry sand and was preserved pretty well.
So before you rub the find with a coarse brass or steel brush, think maybe it is worth using citric acid?
It is safe for health, cheap and is sold at any grocery store.It perfectly dissolves rust on the surface of iron and dark plaque on silver. However, do not clean copper and brass objects in this way. Citric acid leaves a pinkish coating and literally “dissolves” the surface of the object.
I wish you good luck in your search for relics and treasure, comrades!
Greg Part. 2020. For www.relicsww2.net.