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Old 11-30-2012, 12:04 AM   #31
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I'm in full agreement with Shangrilla. If you modify it you will loose value. Definetely scrounge up some period correct neccassities!
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:15 AM   #32
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The only thing I want to do is remove the corrosion on the piece and shine up the metal so it looks like it did when it was new. The epoxy coating I plan on doing is just a thin clear coat that will prevent contact of water and metal. I plan on keeping the original glass and plumbing in the tank. I just don't believe it is safe to have any copper containing metal in contact with water and aquatic life. If copper is used to kill parasites then all you need to do to kill anything else is just increase the concentration. If I clear coat the outside of the plumbing I see no harm to its originality. It must have been coated with something originally or it would have turned completely green. Although I'm starting to wonder if the plumbing may actually be bronze rather than copper. Either way it would have to have been sealed with something or be bronze or brass or both the intake and output pipes would be green. I can place vinyl hose inside the pipes which can't be seen and is removable. I'm thinking about trying to have the inside of the fountain arms plated with a non-reactive metal because the diameter is just too small for an internal hose. I am aware that vintage electrical component reproductions are available. You can see what I did with the lamp over my Jewel tank in one of my other posts. I plan on leaving the stand alone except for the top which is really corroded and the nickel accents. The entire stand is either brass or bronze so would probably look great if the paint were stripped off but then it wouldn't be original so I'm leaving it alone.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:20 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
I follow your thoughts on keeping the fountain & over flow.

Would fabricating the riser pipes and fountain arms out of acyclic tube be an option? With acrylic riser pipes and fountain arms there would be minimal metal contact in the original fountain head.

You could use clear acrylic and use copper krylon spray paint to get a functional reproduction.
I can still use the original riser pipes by just coating them inside and out with clear epoxy or using vinyl tubing on the inside so I wouldn't need to use acrylic. I just need to figure out how to coat or line the inside of the fountain arms since they are so small in diameter.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:28 AM   #34
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Awesome find!!! I love those old Victorian tanks - totally jealous of you, I've never actually seen one in the flesh around these parts.

+1 on the pipes being safe - unless your water is highly corrosive (like that ghastly copper-destroying stuff they have in Florida) brass, nickel and copper piping/fixtures are perfectly safe.

I was just about to refer you this thread, then I realized you were already there lol: http://www.thatforumsite.com/viewtopic.php?f=581&t=2845

Do you have a lot of parlour aquariums? Would love to see some more pics of your collection if you do!
Thank you. I have two other vintage tanks on this forum, a Victorian cast iron tank and stand from the 1880's and a bronzed cast iron tank from the 1920's.
The tanks in those illustrations were cast iron so no problems with metal toxicity like my bronze tank. I had to epoxy the inside bottom of my victorian to prevent it from rusting out. It was originally coasted with a black tar substance which eventually failed. The 1920's tank has a slate bottom so I just covered it with glass so I could reseal the bottom and sides.
The fountains you show spray upwards whereas mine sprays downwards. This is the only one I've ever seen with a fountain like this. I've actually seen some of the tanks in your illustrations come up for sale but they go for thousands of dollars and are usually heavily rusted, missing the glass, and are sometimes missing the fountain as well.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:29 AM   #35
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What a great looking tank, i like antique tanks.
Thanks, me too.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:30 AM   #36
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I agree with Shangrila, please do minimal restoration or just leave it as is. It is a really cool collector piece just as you have it now.

My mom has a house full of "restored" antiques. She accumulated them back in the 70s before antiques began to gain so much value. Some of them would be much more interesting (and much, much more valuable) if they still had their original finishes.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:46 AM   #37
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I didn't even realize aquarium keeping can be dated that long ago.

Makes me want to hunt antique tanks!
They go back thousands of years if you count keeping fish in bowls but the glass rectangular tanks we're all familiar with date back to the 1850's in Europe and the U.S. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, who invented the terrarium or Wardian Case in England in 1829, I think is the originator of the glass rectangular aquarium even though Robert Warington is credited with inventing the Warrington Case aka aquarium in 1852 also in England.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:54 AM   #38
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I agree with Shangrila, please do minimal restoration or just leave it as is. It is a really cool collector piece just as you have it now.

My mom has a house full of "restored" antiques. She accumulated them back in the 70s before antiques began to gain so much value. Some of them would be much more interesting (and much, much more valuable) if they still had their original finishes.
I know this is true of wooden furniture but aquariums? They're so rare that I don't think this comes into play as long as they're all original. This doesn't pertain to the glass or the glass sealant or any equipment like pumps and heaters which aren't usually part of the aquarium. Also I don't think a corroded or rusted aquarium is going to be worth more than a restored one. Just like a rusted junk car, once restored to its original showroom condition is many many times more valuable than as found.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:58 AM   #39
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How interesting!! Definitely designed to be bare bottom with the under lighting... Just to cool!

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I plan on using a substate and keeping the windows in the bottom clear of anything. This may be a challenge and I may be able to do this with some rocks placed around the perimeters of the two lights.
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:03 AM   #40
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Fantastic find, making me pretty jealous. Been searching for one for ages!
They're definitely hard to find. I found all of mine searching on the net and contacting other collectors of antique aquariums. I've never stumbled across one in an antique store, antique show, or yard sale. They're just too rare due to the fact that the early ones were only available to the wealthy due to their high prices, so few were made. Many were melted down as scrap during the first two world wars. So you're left with very few survivors.
I have a friend who is a prominent antiques auctioneer and has been making his living doing this for decades and he said he has never come across an antique aquarium or terrarium.
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:06 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by dbosman@msu.edu View Post
You probably already know this, but for others, you can purchase brand new vintage looking electrical cord and plugs.
Thanks, yes I know this. In one of my other posts I made a vintage light over my 1920's Jewel aquarium using reproduction lamp parts.
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:08 AM   #42
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You mentioned not stripping the paint off the base so as to keep it original, it was probably originally not painted and someone over the years painted it to cover up tarnish or make it match something else. How much metal was really painted in the late 1800's and if it was how much lead is in that paint?


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Old 11-30-2012, 04:19 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by davrx View Post
The only thing I want to do is remove the corrosion on the piece and shine up the metal so it looks like it did when it was new. The epoxy coating I plan on doing is just a thin clear coat that will prevent contact of water and metal. I plan on keeping the original glass and plumbing in the tank. I just don't believe it is safe to have any copper containing metal in contact with water and aquatic life. If copper is used to kill parasites then all you need to do to kill anything else is just increase the concentration. If I clear coat the outside of the plumbing I see no harm to its originality. It must have been coated with something originally or it would have turned completely green. Although I'm starting to wonder if the plumbing may actually be bronze rather than copper. Either way it would have to have been sealed with something or be bronze or brass or both the intake and output pipes would be green. I can place vinyl hose inside the pipes which can't be seen and is removable. I'm thinking about trying to have the inside of the fountain arms plated with a non-reactive metal because the diameter is just too small for an internal hose. I am aware that vintage electrical component reproductions are available. You can see what I did with the lamp over my Jewel tank in one of my other posts. I plan on leaving the stand alone except for the top which is really corroded and the nickel accents. The entire stand is either brass or bronze so would probably look great if the paint were stripped off but then it wouldn't be original so I'm leaving it alone.
Sounds great! Excellent idea with the vinyl hose This is so very exciting! You must be gleeming
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:29 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Kaerey View Post
You mentioned not stripping the paint off the base so as to keep it original, it was probably originally not painted and someone over the years painted it to cover up tarnish or make it match something else. How much metal was really painted in the late 1800's and if it was how much lead is in that paint?


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I don't know, if they went to the trouble of painting the entire stand then why wouldn't they have painted the brass top? Also the tank has a nice patina which I would think the stand would have had too. It may have been painted to match some decor but then I would think the top would have been painted as well.
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:30 AM   #45
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Sounds great! Excellent idea with the vinyl hose This is so very exciting! You must be gleeming
Thanks, I just need to come up with an idea for the fountain arms and get some estimates from metal polisher/finishers.
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