There's a great deal to know about the preservation of paper materials, but some basic knowledge will help you make the correct decisions for the safe storage and handling of your antique prints, maps, books, magazines and other vintage paper items. When storing your paper items keep them:
* cool and dry: the temperature and humidity of the environment where the paper is stored is important, because extremes of these or great fluctuations in them are major enemies of paper. A climate-controlled living area is fine from this point of view, but beware of using basements or attics for storage. * clean: cleanliness of the storage area, and of hands when touching paper is important. A clean, dry storage area also minimizes the possibility of insect damage, mold and of foxing (rust-colored spots). * dark: light causes fading and changes in the composition of the paper, so minimal exposure to light is desirable.
There are several ways you can pack flat pieces of paper, whether they are prints, maps, magazines or ephemera. One good method would be to put the items in bags or envelopes (sleeves). These should be made of an inert material, such as polyester (e.g. Mylar), polyethylene or polypropylene. This will allow you to handle the items without fear of soiling them or of putting stress on the paper, which might cause edge tears. When handling paper it is always advisable to use two clean hands and to provide support for larger items. Prints and maps can also be stored in archival mats, with a piece of Mylar or other archival material placed to protect the area where the print is exposed. Don't use regular adhesive tape or paper clips on paper - get an archival (acid free) tape for small tears and consult a conservator for more major repairs
When framing your prints and maps:
* use acid-free or archival matting and hinging materials * consider the use of ultraviolet-filtering glass or plexiglass, to minimize the detrimental effects of light. Never hang items in direct sunlight.
Books should be stored upright, and not allowed to lean or fall over (this will put stress on parts of the book not meant to receive it, and cause damage). Make sure that they are not stored in direct sunlight (fading to the spine of a book is unfortunately a common fault, just because this is the part of the book which is most exposed to the light).
Non-commercial web sites with more in-depth information on conservation of paper include: National Parks Conserve O Grams which can be downloaded in pdf format. Helpful short articles on conservation techniques for all kinds of materials, including books and paper items.
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