Over the centuries, the composition of jar sealants in natural history museum fluid collections has changed but has not been the subject of extensive documentation. Consequently, it is of paramount interest to increase our knowledge of sealant composition as well as to correlate this information with the date of manufacture and type of preparation. As an initial step towards achieving this goal, an analytical protocol was developed to characterize the composition of sealants encountered in fluid collections of the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (MNHN) in Paris. Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy and pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) were used to investigate the nature of selected jar sealants, and these techniques proved to be efficient for the identification and characterization of waxes and resin additives in sealing samples. First results are very promising; similar examinations should be continued on a large scale for an exhaustive analysis of the MNHN fluid collections.

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