Cellulose nitrate (CN) 4

Spectroscopy chart CN

Doll's head and body, 1930s



Toy Museum, Bletchley Park.


The doll is battered in a manner consistent with use.


Made entirely of the featured material, cellulose nitrate and fillers.


Filled cellulose nitrate is not as prone to degradation as unfilled. This is because the fillers absorb acids emitted on degradation. It has however started to deteeriorate causing it to become brittle, crumpled and cracked.


Degradation typical of the material not visible in this example

Degrading cellulose nitrate can go crystalline. It can also give off camphor.


The damage cannot be reversed.

Display and storage

It should be kept in cool (ideally 2 - 5°C) and dry (ideally 20 - 30% RH) conditions and ideally wrapped in charcoal cloth. As it is not going crystalline it can be stored with other cellulose nitrate objects that are not showing such signs of degradation. It should be checked every six months for any further signs of deteriroation.

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