Maxwell Enamels


How was my emblem created? 

These enameled emblems are often, incorrectly, referred to as cloisonné. Cloisonné is an enamel process in which separate bands of metal are bent then applied to a base. These labor intensive bands encase the enamel and create the design. I have yet to see an automobile emblem done with cloisonné. The process that is used is called champlevé (pronounced shomp´-leh-vay).

The champlevé technique involves applying enamel into depressions in the base metal. These depressions may be etched, engraved or, in the case of automobile emblems, die stamped. The stamping process can also include the beautiful design work that shows under transparent enamels.

  Historically the word enamel meant glass but today it seems to refer to any shiny color. The correct terminology is vitreous [glass] enamel. It is a true glass that melts and fuses around 1400 degrees F.
Enamel can be obtained as opaque, translucent or transparent. The colors are created by the addition of metallic oxides to the glass. The most common form is ground to #80 mesh and looks like colored granulated sugar. These enamels are formulated to molecularly bond with copper, silver and gold.

Porcelain enamels do exist but contain a mixture of glass and fine clay [or porcelain], are opaque and usually fired onto steel or iron.

What will this cost?

 A good beginning point is dialogue between me and the client so we might both understand the goals. 

Only estimates are provided. Accurate records are kept and the job is ultimately billed by time. 

Each emblem has a story of its own but many average $275-$350. This will include removal of the plating and damaged enamel, straightening if required, re-enamel and plating. Most of the steps are done by hand to preserve the integrity of the emblem. Things that take time [affect price] are: Number of colors, enamel type, and detail. – Transparent colors require more steps and care during restoration. As well, the base metal under transparent enamel requires more attention because it will be visible through the enamel.

The estimate also assumes that the existing metal is in decent condition. Unusual metal or mounting damage may alter the estimate. Dings, deep scratches and pits need to be approached very slowly. These areas must be reworked carefully so as not to remove any more metal than is absolutely necessary. Removed metal cannot be regained. It can also lessen the depth of cavity for the enamel. Variation of depth, especially in transparent enamels can cause a color shift or to appear less vibrant in thin areas.

Should I prep my emblem before sending it?

In a word....No. Sometimes the best intentions create a situation that is hard to undo. It is helpful though to let me know if anything has been done to it such as a clear coat, paint or epoxy fill.

How is plating handled?

I can provide any plating requirement but must rely on you to request the approporiate metal to be used. If there is doubt about plating then often classic auto websites or clubs specific to the vehicle can help with the information. The actual plating used is important if the vehicle is going to be shown for points. 

Generally emblems from the early 1900’s were soldered directly onto radiators and many had no plating. From the early teen years through the 1920’s the emblems were usually plated with nickel. Chrome plating started to show at the beginning of the 1930’s. Gold was used in specific applications.  

What if my emblem is contoured?  

When the automobiles took on aerodynamic lines many emblems were angled or curved as well. Be sure to fit the emblem before sending it. I will then use it to make a template to help keep the emblem true during the process.

Can hardware be replaced?  

I see much damage related to the removal of emblems. Because of this I feel strongly that a complete restoration should be functional as well as beautiful. The emblem should not have to be glued or taped in place. I will try to find a solution that is either in keeping with the original mode of attachment or I can replace damaged or missing mounting hardware with new threaded brass rod hard silver soldered in place.

Prior to the 1930’s many of the emblems installed with some sort of steel hardware. High kiln temperatures necessary to mature the enamels will damage these steel friction mounts so I will remove them prior to restoration. If lead solder was the traditional form of attachment then the mount will be reattached with solder.

If the original mount is badly damaged or rusting away, an option may be to switch out a mount from another emblem.

What if the enamel is only scratched and the plating worn? 

A different approach is to polish the scratched enamel and metal before replating. Again, this is all hand work. Imagine polishing a gemstone by hand.   

How long will the restoration take? 

  Turn around time on emblem repair is usually 2-3 months but is dependent on how many jobs I have at any one time. Spring and early summer can get hectic with preparation for all the shows. Please let me know If timing is an issue. I will work with reasonable deadlines whenever possible.  

What do I need to provide when sending an emblem? 

Please protect the item so it is secure within the package

  • Supply all contact information for yourself: Name, address, phone/s, email
  • Include additional instructions if required
  • Should item be insured for return shipment? What value?
  • Verify plating requirements
  • Description of vehicle make, model, year
  • Deposit of 50% required
  • I also appreciate notification that a package is being sent so I can watch for it to arrive.   
How will my item be returned? 

I carefully pack and protect the object/s and USPS Priority Mail is used for return shipping. Please let me know if you want extra processing like insurance or Registered Mail and, if so, what amount of insurance do you require.  

What about insurance?

  If you want insurance then you must request it and I will bill accordingly. For claims, the owner of the item must be able to prove worth.

  An alternative approach is to ship using Registered Mail. In this way there is specific tracking whenever the package changes hands. Registered Mail as well must be requested.

Can colors be altered?  

A modern emblem altered for a 1927 Rolls Royce

I have the ability to change colors and can, in some cases, change the “identity” of a medallion so that it is appropriate for your requirements.

Can holes in the emblem be repaired?

  Holes can be difficult to repair correctly. Sometimes it can be done but is very time consuming. The greatest success is if the hole is drilled solely in an area of enamel. It becomes more difficult if the hole involves any bordering metal.

Can an emblem be restored a second time? 

This is a tough call. I have successfully worked on emblems that have been previously poorly “restored” but only when there are no other options. 

Can an emblem be reproduced? 

Reproduction for a 1936 Delahaye

  In some instances reproductions can be made for an emblem that cannot be otherwise obtained or is too badly damaged for repair. There are some restrictions to this process so it is best to discuss the situation. 

Can a custom design emblem be created?

I can work with your ideas to create a truly unique emblem.

How were these emblems mounted?

  There were a variety of ways that the emblems were installed. Originally they were soldered in place. Common methods used one or more threaded rods or varieties of steel friction cups or bars. Clips and fold over tabs were also employed as were rivets. Of course they could be simply attached through holes in the emblems but beware. In almost every case an original attachment hole will be bordered by a ring of metal. This protects the enamel from damage caused by direct contact with the screw head. If you find a hole directly in the enamel it was probably placed there by an owner or collector after the fact.



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