How to clean an antique globe

bepeaceSeptember 6, 2010

Does anyone know how to safely clean rust off of an antique/vintage globe? The globe is from a school - I don't know the age. It has a very heavy metal stand that is rusty, but I'm more concerned with cleaning the globe itself. It appears to be painted on tin, rather than paper. It's hard to tell, but the continents are black and the oceans are light blue (under the rust!).

The globe stands about 5 feet tall and is probably about 2 feet wide. Any thoughts are appreciated - thanks!

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I should think if it's tin, the rust has already eaten through the paint and is down into the base metal. Trying to clean it off will take off the paint along with the rust. I might get it evaluated to see if it's worth having it restored by a professional.

If not, I'd enjoy it in its current antique-y state. A lot of people like authentic painted tin; many times the condition doesn't seem to be an issue.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 3:40PM
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I had a 1950's globe that I gave to my grandsons. It was covered with paper or cardboard of some sort, which I wasn't happy about at the time, but I'm really glad now that it wasn't metal -- no rust and the paper cleaned up fairly well. I really like your outlines in gold -- neat! Do the countries show up?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 4:05PM
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I have found a bunch of references to using a solution of molasses and water to remove rust from metal. Apparently folks who restore old cars have been using this method. It sounds like a good, non-toxic thing to try!

Here is a link that might be useful: using molasses to remove rust

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 4:52PM
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tasymo - I might try the molasses and water solution and I love that it's non-toxic - thanks!

norar - There are no names that I can find (maybe under the rust), possibly they were left off for the students to name?

duluthinbloomz4 - I have had some luck in using a little glass cleaner on a few small areas - I've found blue water (you can see some of it in the Great Lakes), so I don't think it has rusted to the base level everywhere yet. I happen to like the 'patina' too, just would like to see a little more of the world!

Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 10:46PM
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If you use the molasses method and it works, please let us know (and post another pic!) I'm really curious about how well it works.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 12:03AM
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tasymo - Not sure when I'll get to it, but I'll definitely post again with a pic.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 12:15AM
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If it has rusted, it is not tin, but probably of iron based metal. It may have been sheet metal and thinly electroplated or immersion plated. The easiest way to restore it would be if you could find a replacement globe, but I bet that it is almost impossible to find an exact duplicate.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 5:55PM
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I've used Ospho to kill rust on painted metals around the ranch without affecting the paint. But, without knowing what kind of paint was used, I would read all the warnings and instructions before using it on an object meant to be kept inside. And, yes, please let us know how the molasses/water concoction works.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 8:06PM
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pris - I'll try the molasses and water solution first, then perhaps Ospho - thanks!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 10:18PM
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I have a little trouble believing that globe was used in a school. There are no boundaries for any countries, equator or any of the divisions of The Americas.
I think it's an old globe which has been artfully repainted, without care to stop the rust beneath the new paint.
It's very pretty but not of much use as a teaching tool.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 3:34PM
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An update - I did my own version of the molasses and water (m&w) method. I soaked a rag in m&w and lightly rubbed the rust off. I have gotten down to bright blue in one small area, but I am seeing the full extent of the damage now. There are many areas that have scratches or small portions that, once the rust was removed, is now silver metal. Wondering if I also rubbed the paint off?

The other thing I tried was soaking the rags and leaving them on two sections of the globe for about 2 hours (the Web site suggested a couple weeks). When I checked the rags, they had numerous rust spots that seem to match newly dull or silver portions of the globe.

So, I think the m&w works, but you have to be careful. I'm going to go back to very carefully rubbing the rust off myself. It should at least look better than before! I'll post a pic when it's done.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 11:43PM
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Another update - I just found out my globe is a Denoyer Geppert, most likely circa 1940s or 1950s. It's a military globe used to train aviators (I found several sources that had the same information). In excellent condition (which mine is not), it has sold for as much as $2500 - not bad for my $5 garage sale find!

This link might be helpful:

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 2:56AM
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I remember this type of globe in school in the late 60's. In a geography lesson the teacher (or student) would draw the borders and label the countries, oceans, etc in chalk. It could be erased and used over, and never becamed outdated like standard globes do.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 10:41PM
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phoenix3 - I was told when I bought it that it came from a school, but when I saw it on the Web and researched it further, I found that it is a military globe. Probably was used in both places. Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 12:50AM
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