Framing of a Military Cross Awarded to Cameron H McIntosh


Cameron H McIntosh was awarded the Military Cross on 2nd March 1917.

At the time of WWI the MC was second only to the Victoria Cross in terms of gallantry and was awarded to officers.  With the introduction of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 1993 the MC became the third-level military decoration and was eligible for award to other ranks of the British Armed Forces.  The MC is granted in recognition of "an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to all members, of any rank in Our Armed Forces". In 1979, the Queen approved a proposal that a number of awards, including the Military Cross, could be awarded posthumously.

The decoration comprises a silver cross with straight arms with the Royal Cypher in centre, the  obverse is plain. The ribbon is central stripe of deep purple flanked by equally sized stripes of white.

Entry taken from the London Gazette Issue 30023. M.C. 17th April 1917 - page 3684

2nd Lt. Cameron Holmes Mclntosh, Kings (Liverpool Regt.)  

MC Awarded for action on 2nd March 1917 

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Cross in recognition of conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field. He led four parties to search for an officer and a man, and was out for four hours under heavy fire. Later, he carried out a daring reconnaissance and obtained most valuable information.

The First Step  

Although the framing had taken place recently there were aspects of the framing that left a lot to be desired and could well have resulted in damage to the items.  Whilst we are totally unaware of the discussions that took place between the customer and framer it was the responsibility of the framer to point out the following:

- A number of items were badly damaged and it should have been suggested that these were sent to a conservator.

- The items were of not only historical but also sentimental value and hence the level of framing should have been set at Conservation.

- Frame Design was very poor.  The focus was on the Military Cross and therefore only items that referred to the MC should have been framed together.

In addition to the above the framer used totally inappropriate materials and techniques in framing such a valuable artefact.  The use of an aluminium frame was inexcusable, especially with the two clips inserted in the back to hold the package in place, the tape holding the backboard and frame together and the unusual hanging arrangement.  Whilst the MC was sunk into a prepared box this was of insufficient depth with the effect that the glass was bowed over the MC and case, this resulted in the glass breaking.  The use of pressure sensitive tapes, incorrect hinging techniques and double sided tape to hold items in place were also inexcusable.  Notwithstanding above points the previous framer had realised that some of the items needed careful attention as corner pockets had been used to support a number of items.

Consequently, there were a number of decisions to be made with the customer.  First it was decided that only the MC and associated items would be framed together and a second frame would hold the Commissioning Scroll.  A good inspection of the items revelled the previous inappropriate methods of hinging and the customer gave permission for them to be removed.  The We condition of the items was discussed and agreed that a number should be sent to a conservator.  Finally, the placement of the objects would be decided later when all the items were removed, this was achieved by email once the items were removed and those sent to the conservator were returned.

Four items were sent to the conservator with whom it was agreed that old tape marks should be removed, the items would be flattened, tears repaired and that the items would be repaired by lining with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste.

Once the layout had been agreed work started by drawing a rough layout, with approx dimensions, then finalising the design on the Valiani screen using the ‘Tools’  to position and centre the items.  Essentially, three columns were used, the items centred, with approximately 20mm between each.  It was obvious from the start that the MC and centre column would be slightly off-set   

but this did not unduly distract from the design, a further consideration was the placement of the ‘Kings Horse Emblem.’  Once the design was finished a draft cut was made to check the placement of the items.  

Three further decisions had to be made:

- The photograph was old and on board hence the possibility of having to use an inset mount to ensure the window mount laid flat, further the board was of a size that it would interfere with the mounting of the closest items.  It was decided to scan the photograph, colour correct and print the resulting image on Hahnemuhle German Etching fine art paper; this could then cut to shape and the result would lay flat without the insert.  

- The MC was approx 15mm deep, further the case lid was slightly curved, hence the MC and case required sinking into foamboard.   The dimensions of the case were calculated and the shape was cut from three pieces of 5mm foamboard, a 90deg cut using the Valiani, the foamboard was then glued together.   The MC would be held in position from the front by the under mount and window mount being cut slightly smaller than the opening in the foam board and on the verso of the foamboard by a melinex/mylar strip.  Further, the actual MC was loose in its box and it was previously held in place by the glass.  An attempt to secure this using small stitches failed because there was insufficient material to insert the curved needle before hitting the base of the box resulting in failure of the stitch. The ribbon was stitched onto a brass plate and pin and it was decided to use EvaCon-R to secure this plate in the box.  The same was decided for the medal but this had to be supported by a small cross of mountboard inserted underneath the medal itself.

- The ‘Kings Horse Emblem’ stood proud by approx 5mm and hence this had to sunk into the same foamboard but first it was secured through a slot onto a 500micron board.

Once these decisions had been made the final window and under mounts were cut and taped along the long side using linen gummed tape.  Hinging was relatively simple ’T-Hinges’ were to be used using a combination of ‘Cotton Museum Gummed Tape’ and Japanese Kozo paper and freeze dried tapioca starch paste.  The latter combination was used to hinge the four items returned from the conservator.

Optimum acrylic glazing was used along with Foundry moulding Arqadia ref: 332902. the whole package was assembled, sealed and bumpers applied to the bottom corners.