The Royal Mausoleum
Nu'uanu Valley, Oahu

Partial Gilding Of Kalakaua Crypt

Condition: Gold leafing of the incised letters located on the Mauka wall of the King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani crypt had deteriorated and lifted. Soluble salts had effloresced from the reverse side of the marble shutters which had caused the gold leafing to detach/separate from the incised surfaces of the lettering. Gilding on all other surfaces (Ewa and Diamond Head sides) remained intact and stable.


In 1992, soil was excavated from around the exterior sub-grade walls, a drainage system installed and walls barrier sealed.

Prior to this, water had been leaking for years through the exterior concrete walls into the brick and mortar coffin enclosures and under/through the marble facia. Marble had become stained and pitted

A mainland monument company was contracted to remove staining from the marble and to re-ingrave the deteriorated lettering. They removed 18 marble side shutters located on the opposing walls from the crypt and washed them repeatedly over the course of two weeks, allowing them to air dry. Mortar of the brick enclosures was re-pointed as necessary.

Due to fragility and their large size, the King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani panels were not removed as were the others and merely washed in place.

(As the Mauka shutters were not washed or treated in the same fashion as the other shutters and marble elements located in the crypt, efflorescence has persisted. Without modifying the humidity differential that exists between the front and back sides of the marble shutters, and/or extracting dissolved salts that presently are retained in the marble, it will likely not be possible to stop all efflorescence. Funding was not available for this and as a result, periodic re-gilding will likely be necessary.)

All marble surfaces were then polished and the lettering re-engraved and gilded.

By 1998, gilding on the King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani panels was noticably deteriorating.

Treatment was begun in April of 2002 and consisted of thorough masking off of the Ewa and Diamond Head sides of crypt with plastic sheeting. Removal of remaining gold leaf and primer materials from the Mauka shutters was done mechanically and by repeated water washing of the incised letter surfaces. The crypt was allowed to dry with forced air running for approximately two weeks. The incised lettering was then primed and re-leafed with 231/2 kt extra heavy gold leaf.



The Kalakaua Crypt (below obelisk) and Royal Chapel in background



Looking towards entrance of stairwell.


Looking down stairs into vault.


Mauka (north-north-eastern) wall showing water/salt
damage to marble and incised lettering. Photo taken in November, 2000.







Efflorescence coming from behind the gilding has caused
the gold leaf and size layers to detach from surface.

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Historic information from Wikipedia article.


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