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Best way to preserve paper items?

Article about: Hello, i was wondering if there is a safe and good way to store your documents, books, wehrpasses etc... I keep my paper items in my glass cabinets freely so to say. They are out of direct s

  1. #1
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    Default Best way to preserve paper items?

    Hello, i was wondering if there is a safe and good way to store your documents, books, wehrpasses etc... I keep my paper items in my glass cabinets freely so to say. They are out of direct sunlight, the only light they get are from the lighting inside the cabinets (a lamp). Will this cause dryness over time? And if i need to handle them i always use gloves. Is there a better way or should i put them in a plastic pocket or something similiar?

    Thanks in advance.

    Best way to preserve paper items?
    Regards, Tobias

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  3. #2

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    For paper items, especially when ink is involved, I use archival-safe acid-free sheets/pockets. Since I primarily collect documents and autographs, most of what I have is kept in binders in a cabinet drawer. I’d be interested to see the opinions on Wehrpasses as well, as I have a handful of that kind of thing, too.

  4. #3

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    Tobias,

    You have brought up some wonderful questions and may I suggest that you place the items in archival type document protectors and sleeves. Mylar is archival safe and can be found online and in some cases at hobby stores where they sell stamps and coins as well as paper money. These come in various sizes and can be cut to fit the documents in question.

    There are so many different variables that have to be taken into consideration, temperature, climate, humidity, light, air quality, the list goes on and on...and many will dispute or argue that they see no differences and have not done anything to go out of the way to preserve/conserve their collections but they may not see the long term affects/damages that may be done...

    There are several archival businesses that the museums here in the United States rely on for proper storage as well as exhibit use. These businesses are expensive but there are also fine substitute places that will have ARCHIVAL document protectors such as Hobby Lobby and most likely any stamp and coin shops...

    University Products and Gaylord are the two top companies: (See links)

    Archival Storage | Acid-Free Boxes, Folders, Envelopes, Clear Enclosur

    Archival & Acid-Free File Folders, Hanging Folders, Heavy Duty | Gaylord Archival

    One question I do have is about the lights in your display case.. If they are LED lights they tend to give off less heat which will help preserve the integrity of the documents and LEDs are preferred, but with anything over time the documents may become brittle if they are not allowed to "breathe".. If you are going to place documents in an archival protector make sure that there is at least one open end in order for air to circulate inside the folder.

    Lighting is always a question that we discuss in the museum field and we talk about lumens and the wattage of lights used. Halogen and fluorescent bulbs give off incredible amounts of heat which over time "burn" objects. Soft light bulbs with low candle and lumens are the best best as well as LEDs. Another option is a filter that can be placed over the bulb. These break up the direct light flow and "soften" the amount of lighting that is given off.

    Sorry about all the technical terminology of lumens and candlepower and all the other things, but this is something that curators must study and understand when dealing with artifacts..

    Personal collections are just as important,, so I practice what I preach.. Why would I do differently with my personal artifacts when I spend so much time and care in conservation and preservation at the museum?

    Handling the documents is also preferred with gloves (which you say you do which is great), either cotton or nitrile/latex are fine. You want to place a barrier between your skin and the paper. Oils and dirt's in your hands can transfer to documents and leave staining which will also cause damage after years of mishandling, another reason why many blade collectors will not handle their knives or daggers without wearing gloves due
    to the risk of leaving fingerprints on the blades. The acids and oils left on the blade will after time be "etched" into the blades again causing damage.

    Tobias,, you are taking the right approach with the questions you ask and museum professionals enjoy seeing this, especially in the younger generation.. When you ask these questions and take direct action you are actually helping to ensure that the artifacts will be preserved for hundreds of years,, well after I am gone and I can no longer pass my knowledge forward, so I commend you for taking such an interest in conservation and preservation..

    I would be happy to have someone like you as an intern in our museum whose passion for military history is quite obvious...

    Best regards, stay safe

    Smitty

  5. #4
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    Quote by Rakkasan187 View Post
    Tobias,

    You have brought up some wonderful questions and may I suggest that you place the items in archival type document protectors and sleeves. Mylar is archival safe and can be found online and in some cases at hobby stores where they sell stamps and coins as well as paper money. These come in various sizes and can be cut to fit the documents in question.

    There are so many different variables that have to be taken into consideration, temperature, climate, humidity, light, air quality, the list goes on and on...and many will dispute or argue that they see no differences and have not done anything to go out of the way to preserve/conserve their collections but they may not see the long term affects/damages that may be done...

    There are several archival businesses that the museums here in the United States for proper storage as well as exhibit use. These businesses are expensive but there are also fine substitute places that will have ARCHIVAL document protectors such as Hobby Lobby and most likely any stamp and coin shops...

    University Products and Gaylord are the two top companies: (See links)

    Archival Storage | Acid-Free Boxes, Folders, Envelopes, Clear Enclosur

    Archival & Acid-Free File Folders, Hanging Folders, Heavy Duty | Gaylord Archival

    One question I do have is about the lights in your display case.. If they are LED lights they tend to give off less heat which will help preserve the integrity of the documents and LEDs are preferred, but with anything over time the documents may become brittle if they are not allowed to "breathe".. If you are going to place documents in an archival protector make sure that there is at least one open end in order for air to circulate inside the folder.

    Lighting is always a question that we discuss in the museum field and we talk about lumens and the wattage of lights used. Halogen and fluorescent bulbs give off incredible amounts of heat which over time "burn" objects. Soft light bulbs with low candle and lumens are the best best as well as LEDs. Another option is a filter that can be placed over the bulb. These break up the direct light flow and "soften" the amount of lighting that is given off.

    Sorry about all the technical terminology of lumens and candlepower and all the other things, but this is something that curators must study and understand when dealing with artifacts..

    Personal collections are just as important,, so I practice what I preach.. Why would I do differently with my personal artifacts when I spend so much time and care in conservation and preservation at the museum?

    Handling the documents is also preferred with gloves (which you say you do which is great), either cotton or nitrile/latex are fine. You want to place a barrier between your skin and the paper. Oils and dirt's in your hands can transfer to documents and leave staining which will also cause damage after years of mishandling, another reason why many blade collectors will not handle their knives or daggers without wearing gloves due
    to the risk of leaving fingerprints on the blades. The acids and oils left on the blade will after time be "etched" into the blades again causing damage.

    Tobias,, you are taking the right approach with the questions you ask and museum professionals enjoy seeing this, especially in the younger generation.. When you ask these questions and take direct action you are actually helping to ensure that the artifacts will be preserved for hundreds of years,, well after I am gone and I can no longer pass my knowledge forward, so I commend you for taking such an interest in conservation and preservation..

    I would be happy to have someone like you as an intern in our museum whose passion for military history is quite obvious...

    Best regards, stay safe

    Smitty
    Thank you for the kind words Smitty, regarding the lights in my cabinet, they luckily don't give of too much heat. As for the gloves i use rubber gloves. I might wanna look for cotton gloves as you said. My dad hopefully has a bunch of those at his work . Also, i always try to keep my room at a "neutral" temprature. Not too cold, not too warm. Thank you once more
    Regards, Tobias

  6. #5

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    Some excellent responses here from other forum members, I echo what they say. I don't tend to keep my paper items out in my cabinet, I prefer to keep them tucked away in binders. I usually put them in top loaders to prevent bending before sliding them into plastic sleeves.

    Many thanks
    Harvey

  7. #6

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    As a museum curator I can tell you this: problems with moisture is more significant than a problem with light. There are some "cold" lights that you can use in your glass cabinet, and you should not have any problems. "warm" light produce heat and that is not good for documents. also a natural sunlight, or I should say day/night changes of natural light are also very bad for paper documents, because they lose color and obtain sort of yellowish color. but, light is manageable problem, just put your documents in shade, away from natural light. bigger problem is moisture, to be precise rapid changes in temperature. that can be avoided by putting specialized humidifiers / moisture remover in the whole room or in the glass cabinet, but then glass cabinet need to be better sealed. also use acid free material when you store your documents. (one document between two acid free papers)

  8. #7
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    I am curious billy001...I have been studying the use of various archival products for paper and flag storage. In regards to paper storage for single sheet items, I have been using polyester L-velopes from University Products. But as the paper documents are World War II vintage, I am guessing that they contain acid. I was thinking of placing a piece of buffered interleaving paper directly behind the document and then putting both into the L-velope, instead of having the document alone in the L-velope.

  9. #8

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    Pretty much everything said is correct, very hard to add anything.

    Moisture is very much so more an enemy than light, unless you intend to leave a florescent light on for 24 hours a day all year right over all your documents I would not be worried if there is no direct sunlight.
    Inside your glass cabinet they look fine, it looks a dry and self contained environment. Dust tho does surprise most of us so just encase to keep the area dust free.

    Acid free sleeves are around in all shapes and sizes if you wish to contain your wherpass and documents to be extra careful, I do this for some however the thick cover card stock keeps all the information quite safe. Top loaders for all the sports cards fans out there, again really good for valuable documents and come in a variety of sizes and widths.

    However in a general sense how you are displaying them now, there will be very little or no impact.

    Morris

  10. #9

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    Here you are an example of all 3 ways in 1 photo.

    Best way to preserve paper items?

  11. #10

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    Bobby,

    Since no one has responded to your inquiry in regards to the acid in papers you can place a sheet of buffered paper between the paper and the Mylar sleeve and that will help to wick away any remaining acids. The products from University Products are high quality and as a Museum Curator in a US Army Museum in the United States I have various tools and resources available to ensure proper conservation and preservation of all our artifacts from MACROs to the smallest paper items.

    The shelves of some of our cabinets are lined with buffered and unbuffered acid free paper that we periodically switch out when we conduct conservation reports and at any sign of discoloring of the paper that the artifacts are resting upon. This is a good gauge for us when monitoring the temperature and humidity in certain storage areas when the climate changes. We have some leather products for example that have been treated for so many years with polish, bees wax, renaissance wax, and other chemicals that the acid free paper stains due to the wicking of the chemicals out of the leather onto the paper..

    You should be fine with the barrier on the paper and then place that in the Mylar sleeve..

    Smitty

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