Conservation of Antique Firearms with David Edge and Deborah Lee

Ref: M3D33161

Location: West Dean
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2 places available

About this course

This course is designed to give students a 'hands-on' experience of antique firearms care and conservation, to a level suitable for museum and collection general curators, conservators and museum technicians, as well as dealers and collectors.

Course Description

The course will begin by examining relevant health and safety topics, followed by a survey of commonly-encountered materials and their nature, identification and analysis.

The principles of conservation will then be examined with special reference to historic firearms, to include issues presented by both preventive conservation and the often more invasive techniques required by ‘restoration’.  

The remainder of the course will focus on individual objects, during which everyone will become familiar with the principal firearm-ignition mechanisms and construction of firearms through history, up to the middle of the 19th century, together with the problems and most common conservation procedures encountered with each type.

The final day will be allocated to individual ‘hands-on’ practice of conservation techniques on antique firearms supplied for this purpose, or (by prior arrangement/permission) brought in by attendees. Throughout the course, teaching will be carried out using real objects rather than lectures, powerpoints or paper resources. Discussion and knowledge-sharing will be encouraged.  By the end of the course, the following aims will have been achieved:

  • You will be familiar with the health and safety issues presented by historic firearms
  • You will be familiar with the proper handling of historic firearms
  • You will be familiar with the construction, dismantling and re-assembly of historic firearms
  • You will be familiar with the principles of conservation as applied to historic firearms
  • You will be aware of the main problems and pitfalls commonly encountered in the conservation and care of historic firearms
  • You will have undertaken for yourself a range of basic conservation procedures on one or more historic firearms

Course Materials


All course materials, tools and equipment will be provided.

What students need to bring

Attendees are advised to wear practical clothing that they don’t mind getting dirty or stained, and to bring their own preferred protective clothing if they wish… eg. lab. coat, overalls,  or a ‘bib’-type apron.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

  • Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm
  • 6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included)
  • 8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential

Daily timetable

  • Classes, lunch is included
  • from 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students)
  • 8 - 9pm: Revision and review of topics raised

Last day

  • Classes 9am-4pm, lunch is included
  • Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

General Information


David Edge

David Edge is a visiting lecturer at West Dean.

Deborah Lee

Deborah Lee is a visiting lecturer at West Dean and freelance Metals Conservator, specialising in Arms and Armour.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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