A Guest Blog Post by Gina Hutchings
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in December, joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community.
Our possessions are important to us – especially if they are sentimental or priceless; meaning knowing how to effectively store your collectibles could make a dramatic difference to their lifespan and long-term value. However, keeping items stored can be difficult when you’re faced with an exceptionally large collection filled with different items.
Whether you collect antique toys, vintage vinyl records or period photographs, check out this guide to discover simple, more effective alternatives to storing your collectibles.
Store by Group
Having a cluttered, unorganized collection will only cause chaos when putting them into storage, so begin by categorizing your belongings into groups. If you have a record collection this could be by era or genre, whilst an antique collector would benefit from keeping fragile items separate from bulkier ones.
Create a Catalogue
If you have an extremely large collection, keeping track of everything can become difficult. Once you have categorized your entire collection into groups, use a cataloguing system to record the location and important information for every item; this will help if you eventually decide to rearrange or sell anything.
Rotate Your Display
If you have a collection or a few prized-items you’re keen to exhibit in your household, these will be particularly vulnerable when left untouched over long periods. Regularly rotating items will reduce their risk to breakage or harm from sunlight and dust accumulation. Store them in locked display cases or cabinets to add extra protection whilst keeping them visible. Shelving is ideal for displaying toys
Storing your items safely goes beyond the type of container you use, for sometimes extra protection is required within your storage methods. If you’re using tissue paper to separate items ensure they are chemical-free, for textile-based collectibles (clothing, furniture, and dolls) are susceptible to the acid that is contained in certain materials and will gradually fade overtime.
Conduct research to determine which packaging materials contain harmful chemicals before purchasing – there are plenty of chemical-free alternatives available online. Any unbound documents (for example manuscripts) should be stored in acid-free, lignin-free, buffered file folders.
Use Sealed Containers
When choosing what to store your collection in, plastic storage boxes are an obvious choice due to their durability and value for money. However, it is important to double check you’ve purchased ones that seal completely to prevent any dust, moisture, pests and insects from having access to your prized possessions and destroying them. Stacking boxes that contain lighter, more maneuverable items will also reduce the chances of gaining unwanted attention from external factors.
Avoid Light Exposure
Light is a common cause of damage to collections, for many of these materials are sensitive to consistent light exposure, such as: fabric, leather, photograph, paper, inks and dyes; which can lead to irreversible fading and discoloration. For example – if you have an antique book collection, excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation will cause weakening, bleaching, yellowing of paper and even damage to the leather binding; diminishing their aesthetic appreciation – the 19th century painting above faded due to consistent light exposure.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to control light levels. Installing motion sensors to control your household lighting or keeping lights off when the room is unoccupied will reduce the amount of unnecessary light exposure. UV filtered acrylic or Pexiglas is ideal for protecting photographs and paintings, you could also cover windows with shades.
Store at a Constant Temperature & Relative Humidity
Even if they are stored properly, extreme fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity will cause serious harm. Library and archival materials are hygroscopic; meaning they are vulnerable to moisture and will react to seasonal changes in temperature. Potential damage from temperature and humidity includes flaking ink, damage to clocking paper and cracks on photographs. Implementing simple climate controlling solutions, such as air conditioning or a humidifier can solve this problem.
Be Cautious of Larger Items
Unfortunately, oversized items (architectural drawings, blueprints, maps and wall prints) aren’t as simple to store, for folding them into boxes will result in irreversible creases and even tears.
If you have several paper-based items that are too large to fit inside drawers or be displayed, these can be rolled into groups of relevant items – the number will depend on the weight and size of the paper. Use a tube several inches longer than the largest item to roll materials around. These should also be wrapped in buffered paper or polyester film to protect them from abrasion, dust, and pollutants.
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