Monday, October 7, 2013

Burnishing Bobby

It has long been considered good luck to rub part of a statue: the belly of Buddha, the boot of a hero, even the crotch of a certain Frenchman. Growing up in Springfield, Illinois, I became quite used to seeing shiny noses on sculptures of American president Abraham Lincoln, the city's most famous resident. Recently, a grassroots campaign brought to the attention of Edinburgh authorities that a statue of one of their most famous residents needed refurbishing because of this custom. Greyfriars Bobby has stood since 1873 in the Scottish churchyard where his owner, a police night watchman, had been buried. A symbol of faithfulness, the terrier had refused to leave the grave for 14 years until his own death. Plans were soon put in place to "unburnish" Bobby's nose. The treatment by bronze sculpture specialists involved cleaning with a mild detergent, brushing with a special chemical solution, heating with a blowtorch to restore the patina, and applying several coats of a microcrystalline wax. Councillor Richard Lewis remarks proudly, “Although Bobby has never been in any immediate danger, it was highlighted to us that the practice of rubbing his nose was starting to make him look a little scruffy. As one of the most famous - and most popular - statues in the Capital, it’s only right that he looks his best at all times. Once we became aware of the local concern it was clear that we had to act and I’m delighted we’ve been able to get specialists in to restore Greyfriars Bobby to his former glory.”

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