PENNANT CARE & CLEANING
Each year i receive several inquiries as to the best way to clean pennants. Can it be done? Do you recommend it? How do i go about it? The following is a compilation of my opinions and experiences regarding this matter. I welcome your suggestions, ideas and horror stories on this topic. I will add them to this web page for others to benefit from.
The cleaning of pennants is an issue all collectors face at one time or another. It dosen't matter if your a hard core collector with high end vintage pennants or you're just starting out and have a few pennants hanging on your wall. We all like them to look good. This can be a tough and frustrating matter. In general i prefer to retain whatever patina is on the pennant and not mess with cleaning them. However, there are those times when cleaning can really improve the look and feel of the item.
Cleaning is a very tricky topic. Each pennant should be addresses on a case by case basis. What may work for one is not guaranteed to work for another. Most older pennants can't be replaced easily or inexpensively so you really must weigh the risks, and there are always risks! Thats why there are no set rules and i do not recommend one method over another. In fact i do not recommend any cleaning methods. I have tried several methods over the years and have not been happy with any of them. I pass on this information so that you can make a more informed decision.
Your backing material may make a difference in the best method to utilize when attempting to clean your pennant. Is the pennant made of felt, flannel, linen or ?? Is the pennant hard and stiff or soft and pliable? The safest thing to do once you have made the decision to attempt to clean your pennant is to find another disposable pennant with the same type of material and aging/soiling to use as your ginny-pig. If this is not possible you may be able to do a test on the back of the pennant or on a less visible portion of the pennant. This could be under the spine or towards the tip. Do not put pennants in the washing machine! They will only be trashed in the end. I have been there!
I have seen the product SHOUT used to successfully remove certain stains and yellowing from pennants. If attempting this, the product should be sprayed onto another cloth, worked in a bit, then applied via the cloth to the pennant.. I have seen this method work wonders in certain situations. However, the biggest problem you face with this method is that you may successfully remove the spot or yellowing but you are then left with a really clean spot on a pennant which has patina throughout. Its a decent method to try with a newer pennant with those candy bar or coffee like stains.
You will face this same problem regardless of the cleaner you use. I have also seen this method used as a sort of bath with a two parts to one mixture of water and cleaning solution. The mixture strength depends on the agent used. Be sure not to create a very soapy solution as you run the risk of a soapy residue once the pennant dries. When possible remove the spine. The entire pennant can then be dipped or bathed in the solution for as long as it takes to achieve the desired effect. By dipping the pennant you will start the agitation process and hopefully expedite the cleaning process. You must beware that the potential of bleeding on the pennant surface and into the spine exists. I would not try this with felt on felt designs. Once the pennant has been cleaned to your satisfaction, remoe it from the cleaning solution. You will also want to rinse it a few times in a plain water bath to remove residue etc. Do not rinse under a faucet and do not wring the pennant out. I have also seen woolite and soft detergents like surf used to remove mold and fungus. Most detergents are to abrasive and strong to use.
The pennant can be placed on a dry towel on a flat surface. The dry towel will assist in leaching the moistureout of the pennant. Utilize towels that do not release alot of fiber. Once this is doneyou can hang it in a dry area to complete the process. If you encounter any bleeding onto the painted areas of the pennant use a wet cloth to wipe the area clean. You may also want to try a hand dryer and experiment with the best setting to use.
Another touchy area of care and cleaning. Once your pennant has dried you may decide you would like to iron it to get rid of wrinkles etc. Again you may want to use a ginny-pig piece that is similar to the pennant you want to iron. Iron from the back side on low temperature or steam not touching the pennant. Keep in ind if you put a hot iron on a painted surface, your gonna have problems.
I have taken pennants to the dry cleaners with mixed results. It really depends on what kind of problems the pennant has and how much work the dry cleaner is willing to put into it. Keep in mind these guys take responsibility for nothing. I have had some luck with this method but again it was because they were willing to put some work into it and had the knowledge of the best cleaning agents to use. They are experts with spots, mold, fungus etc. If you have a good raport with a shop that actually does work on site and you explain everything clearly i.e. value etc. You're much better off.
Its fairly common for collectors to remove and replace spines on their pennants. You may want to remove the spine and clean it seperately from the pennant. You may want to take a good spine off a bad pennant and replace it on a good pennant with a bad spine. You may just want to change the color of the spine. This can be done fairly easily and collectors usually have this done by a tailor or seamstress shop for a few dollars.
Lots and lots of pennants have moth holes or pin holes. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done. However, i have seen some real magic done by utilizing a sharp pin to work the existing material on the pennant into the hole. This really works! It takes some patience and a steady hand but you can improve the appearance of alot of pennants in your collection using this simple method. Each pennant still needs to be addressed on a case by case basis but in general the method is the same. Works best on the older felt pieces. Utilize the tip of the pin to work the fibers of the pennant around the hole into the hole. This can be done from the front and back but start on the back side. We are just talking fibers here. You're drawing loose fibers into the hole. Don't rake the area around the hole to hard or you may do more damage than good.
This mostly pertains to newer pennants of the 90s on. This is the time when the leagues utilized the holograms to designate the items were officially licensed. The holograms were applied to the backs of pennants. The problem was the holograms had black ink applied to them for numbering. That ink over time has a tendency to leach onto other surfaces. Most people will keep their pennants in a stack and over time, moisture and pressure will transfer the ink from one pennant to another. This will leave a nasty ink mark on your new pennant. The way to handle this is to remove the holograms. You don't need them. If you are using protective sleeves you do not have to worry about this issue.
Yes, Dyes.... There are those who for a variety of reasons try to dye the color in a pennant. This is usually done because the backing color of the pennant has faded to a very ugly color usually gray or tan. I think like everything else, it has its place and may be a great tool in the right situation as long as its not being done to decieve. I have seen good dye jobs and bad dye jobs. The instance i remember most is a 70s style Yankees pennant that was heavily creamed. The owner dyed the pennant a medium blue. When finished, it looked very odd. You could not put your finger on it right away. It got rid of the creaming issue but created another new problem which was its very odd appearance.
Again, I DO NOT RECOMMEND ANY METHOD! Make sound choices based on whats important to you. I welcome your input! Best of luck!