Renaissance™ wax polish was initially formulated in the British Museum research laboratories in the early 1950s, in response to a discussion amongst museum technicians at an international conference on fine-art conservation.
In accelerated ageing tests, the British Museum scientist found that all current commercial waxes based on the usual natural waxes (beeswax and carnauba wax) contained acids which, in time, could spoil the original finishes on national historic collections of furniture. He rejected them all and investigated the new so-called ‘fossil’ or microcrystalline waxes being refined out of crude oil. With their distinct characteristics depending on their geographical origins, the new ‘man-made’ waxes could be accurately blended to meet the needs of many industries, from cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to heavy engineering. Thus, the waxes combined Nature’s best qualities with the advantages of modern technology.
The blend which emerged from that research was ‘designed’ for the long-term protection of all classes of museum exhibits. At last, museum technicians and others caring for important collections could use wax polish that neither caused future conservation problems nor detracted from the intrinsic values of their treasures.
Commercial production and distribution of the polish were ultimately undertaken in 1968 by the London-based company Picreator Enterprises Ltd. under its trade name ‘Renaissance’. The product was quickly accepted in the international museum world and has become a universally respected standard conservation material – probably the most widely specified because of its almost unlimited uses.
What makes Renaissance wax so different?
It has a crystalline structure much finer than natural waxes, a property that confers a highly efficient moisture resistance. Countless statues and monuments in city streets are now protected by Renaissance wax from weathering corrosion. Arms and armour, steel and kitchen equipment of brass and copper in historic house museums, are kept bright and corrosion-free.
When thinly applied and rubbed out to full lustre, the wax film is (and remains) glass-clear, with no discolouration either of the wax or the underlying surface. Renaissance wax is free from acids (pH neutral) and will not damage even sensitive materials. For example, photographs for exhibition or of historic value are waxed to protect the image from the natural acidity of hands or environmental pollutants. The wax does not stain or darken even white paper.
On furniture or wood carvings the wax delicately enhances grain or ‘flame’ patterns. It protects existing finishes such as french polish and can also be applied directly to sanded, unfinished hardwoods without the need for sealers. Waxing is the last process in hand-made furniture and the creation of wood, stone or metal sculptures. But it is the first aspect to be appreciated by hand and eye. The clarity and lustre of Renaissance wax make an instant visual appeal.
The silk-smooth touch of the matured wax film gives added pleasure, compared to the ‘drag’ of fingers leaving trails across the softer beeswax polishes.
No matter how often the wax is used there is no loss of clarity, so fine surface detail is never obscured. Repeated use of the wax deepens the lustre, reflecting more light from surfaces and making them more ‘lively’.
Picreator receives hundreds of enquiries from around the world asking if Renaissance wax suits a specific surface or project. Invariably the answer is ‘yes’. Its unique qualities make it ideal for protecting all surfaces from environmental attack or handling. The wax is, for example, replacing the preservative oiling of arms and armour in museums. The wax film is hard and dry and does not, like oil, remain sticky and attract atmospheric acidity. Exhibits are more comfortable to handle.
Customers use Renaissance wax in the following ways: To protect metals such as silver, brass and copper from tarnishing, on collections of all types of metals (old coins, locks and keys, arms and armour both original and replica), on both the wood and metal surfaces of vintage cars and musical instruments, on bronze sculptures inside the home and outside exposed to the elements, on marble and granite worktops to prevent staining and on smooth leather items. These are just some of the applications the wax has been used on.
Note: A test must be carried out on a small, discreet area to ensure that the wax is suitable for use on that object. Several coats of wax needed to protect the item will vary depending on the type of surface, how frequently it is touched and its location. These factors will also determine the frequency of further maintenance required.