Re: A More Sanitary Method
Welcome to the AC Forum!
While there are many agents and reagents thatwill readily tarnish brass, ranging from egg yolks to mustard to liquid gun blue, etc., etc.- let's not go there on this Forum.
While there undoubtedly times and periods during the War when the maintenance and attention given to inspections and the "finer point" of military appearance suffered..
By and large, the presence of tarnished and much tarnished buttons today is something of an overdone reenactorism.
The issue is not TARNISH but rather the modern bright finish often found on most all commercial vendors' buttons (with exceptions such as Mr. Kindred).
This finish is the result of a modern polishing process followed by the button being "sealed" in clear lacquer (etc.) to prevent oxidation and discoloration.
To achieve the "look" of a CW era button, one need doonly two things:
1. Remove or "strip" the clear finish with nail polish remover, paint remover, paint stripper, and a little 000 or 0000.
2. Then maintain the button as it "tarnishes" due to exposure and due to exposure to the sulphur in blackpowder smoke, etc., etc in a "period correct" manner using a mild abrasive and water paste. One such method used by CW soldiers involved fire place ash and water. Another was vinegar instead of water.
This imparts a low lustre, "hand and not machine" sheen to brass buttons that a CW soldier would have recognized and done.
How often one does that (for inspections, etc.) will determine how "bright" or how "dingy" one' s buttons appear. But, with the exceptions noted above,
"inspections" often appear in journals and diaries as the "de rigeur."
Here is trusting that your question was sincere and not "trolling for effect" or "flame bait."
In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt
-Hard and sharp as flint...secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
-Haplogroup R1b M343 (Subclade R1b1a2 M269)
-Pointless Folksy Wisdom Troll Mess, Oblio Lodge #1