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Rare crimson Jolly Roger restored

20 June 07 11:56 GMT

A rare 18th Century red Jolly Roger pirate flag has been restored to its former glory.

The crudely-stitched flag was captured in battle on the Barbary Coast of North Africa in 1780 by Lieutenant Richard Curry, who later became an admiral.

The flag's current owner, a descendant of Lt Curry, asked the Winchester School of Art's Textile Conservation Centre to repair the flag.

The work took Masters student Bonnijo Chervenock six weeks to complete.

American Ms Chervenock found gunpowder and small holes with charred edges on the flag during the conservation.

It also appears to have been cut out of another piece of fabric, as a buttonhole shape was found on the underside and it is not cut in a square.

The Jolly Roger is red rather than black, meaning that pirates intended to spare no life in a ship's capture.

Ms Chervenock said: "I cleaned the flag very carefully, to remove dirt and to return the fabric to a more neutral pH - it was extremely acidic which would be damaging in the long term - but without removing the gunpowder, which is an important part of its history.

"Having cleaned each little painted fragment individually, I attached each piece onto dyed silk crepeline fabric using an adhesive technique.

"I then stitched the consolidated skull and crossbones onto the flag, which had been stitched onto a new fabric."

The cleaned and supported Jolly Roger has been stitched onto a fabric-covered acid-free board so it can be framed and displayed at the owner's hotel.

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