Saturday, April 22, 2006

Conservation Tips on Vintage Paper

If you like vintage paper items, this suggestion list might be helpful in preserving your collection. Many of these ideas can be applied to books, posters, photographs and similar old paper items.

  • Storage: Don't store paper collectibles in a damp place like a basement or garage. Moisture can cause rotten leather bindings, sticky photographs, and those yellow-ish brown stains called foxing.
  • Temperature: Ideal temperature ranges for storing books and paper is 65 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit, along with 50% relative humidity. You can buy a small meter to determine temperature and humidity at your local Walmart or other department store for a few dollars. Also, direct sunlight, artificial light, or intense heat can dry out and fade leather and cloth bindings.
  • If you want to reverse dog-eared corners in books, try putting a sheet of clean white paper on top of the creased page and press with a warm - not hot - iron.
  • Water spills: A frost-free freezer will draw out moisture and free the book pages which have stuck together. If you have too many books to fit in your freezer, call a local wholesale meat distributor or food processor and ask to rent freezer space.
  • Clean leather book bindings with saddle soap. Apply sparingly with your fingers or a clean cloth, cheesecloth or a chamois. Wait several hours and then repeat.
  • Sometimes the best way to dust books is the easiest - you can vacuum them with a dusting-brush attachment. Or, you can use a shaving brush or a soft clean paintbrush, too.
  • Moldy pages? Wipe mold and mildew from the bindings and pages with a soft, clean cloth. If the pages are moldy, wipe with an alcohol-dampened clean cloth, then fan the pages open so they'll dry. You can also try sprinkling the pages with cornstarch, then brushing them off a few hours later.
  • Pencil marks? An art gum eraser from an art supply store will do the trick. You can also use this eraser to clean dingy book covers and page ends. Work carefully, from the center outwards, to avoid damage.
  • Don't remove books from shelves by pulling on the tops of the bindings, as vintage books tear easily. Instead, push in the two books on either side of the book you want, and you'll be able to grasp it properly without damaging it.

1 comment:

Marty Weil said...

These are great tips for ephemera collectors. Thanks!