Re: Removing cork stoppers from specimine jars.

Ron Kley

Hi Michael — Let me begin by saying I’m not a conservator, but I have dealt with problems similar to yours, so I’ll offer a couple of suggestions. If possible, I’d experiment with a relatively expendable example.

1) Try heating one of the tightly corked containers by standing it or holding it in water as the water is heated on a stove. The heat will produce a buildup of pressure in any air that may be present in the container, and this MAY loosen the cork.

2) Drill through the center of the cork, and remove the periphery by scraping. (Of course,this will inevitably contaminate the contents with cork fragments which may, in some cases, diminish the scientific value of the specimens.

Note, by the way, that even “successful” removal of corks may compromise the scientific value of specimens. Unless and until you have a clear idea of what the potential scientific value may be, and what analytical procedures may be proposed, the most responsible course of action may be to leave the corks in place and leave the closed containers just as they are.

By the way, I envy your location! Having been a John Hall fan for decades, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on Lower Virginius Island, walking “Hall’s Path,” searching for the exact location of his home, and perusing archival material in the NFNHP library. I hope that your curatorial work may help to increase visitors’ awareness of “my guy” and his industrial accomplishments.

Ron Kley