Theses Master's

Decorative Monel: Historical Intent, Weathering and Analysis

Churchill, James E.

This thesis provides in-depth research into the rise and fall of Monel metal - the background, stakeholder intent, competition and current conservation practice while carrying out the first known atmospheric corrosion analysis in over fifty years. Covering the reasons behind the vacuum of information on this trademarked and now specialty metal, the thesis is broken into a historical and technical component. The initial section consists of the beginnings of The International Nickel Company and the demand for nickel materiel at the beginning of the twentieth-century, the discovery of the alloy’s anti-corrosive nature and high mechanical strength, the evolving manufacturing processes, its branding after the war and the aesthetic intent from both the company and fabricator perspective, and the slow discovery of the “fogging” of nickel. The technical component, carried out in the Columbia University Historic Preservation laboratory towards the end of 2019, breaks down the materials science, including composition, various types and finishes of the alloy, and subsequent testing of corroded surfaces with X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Case studies are carried out at Woodlawn Cemetery as well as at Bryn Athyn Historic District. A literature review is provided throughout the text with findings and recommendations to offer further preservation discussion for future generations of architects and conservators.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Weiss, Norman R.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 10, 2020