Old World Auctions
671 Hwy 179 Sedona, AZ 86336
PROTECTING YOUR COLLECTION
Those of us who collect antique maps and prints are attracted to the field for a
variety of reasons.
Chief among them is usually the awe, inspired by holding a graphic historical
record, that has survived hundreds of years.
Once the item enters our collection, it's continued survival becomes our
responsibility. The following are basic guidelines and preventative measures that will
help protect your collection from the most common types of damage.
Careless handling is by far the most prevalent cause of
damage to paper objects. It can lead to tears, wear, loss of the image,
creases and staining. Prepare a clean viewing surface to enjoy your collection.
Make sure there are no liquids, food, ink pens or similar objects that could result
in an accident.
Don't handle paper with unwashed hands. The oils and salts in perspiration will damage the paper fibers and leave stains that
are extremely difficult to remove.
It is best to wear clean cotton gloves while viewing your collection.
Always provide adequate support for the paper and handle it with both hands.
Never lift a piece of paper by its edges, particularly if there are any tears present.
Paper clips, binder clips and post-it notes should not be used on works of art.
Metallic clips can corrode and leave rust stains on the paper surface.
Post-it notes can damage the image or paper surface.
Maps and prints should be stored flat in shallow drawers or
The individual pieces should be enclosed in folders or sleeves made of 100%
acid-free paper and/or Mylar.
If a piece is too large to store flat, roll it into a large diameter tube.
For long-term storage the tube must be constructed of acid-free materials or lined
with Mylar to protect the paper.
Don't store your collection in a place where there are extreme changes in
temperature or humidity, and be sure it is out of the reach of insects and rodents.
Proper framing should provide an artistic method of display,
and more importantly provide a protective environment for the art.
Unfortunately, nearly all framing in the past included materials that
damage and eventually destroy paper.
If you acquire a framed piece, it must be dismounted from the frame and examined
for potential damage.
It is extremely important to employ a qualified professional who is trained in
archival framing techniques. Be sure the materials included in the frame are of the
highest quality including 100% acid-free conservation mat-boards, reversible-mounting
adhesives, ultraviolet light filtering glazing, and sealed frames.
Severe damage to paper will result from improper framing with inferior quality
Conservation framing is more expensive, but critical to the preservation and
protection of your investment.
Don't hang any framed art where it will receive direct or strong
The ultraviolet spectrum of light will fade colors and accelerate deterioration of
Fluorescent lighting is also harmful, and fixtures should be fitted with UV filters.
Fluctuations and extremes in temperature and humidity levels can have a
detrimental effect on paper.
Maintain a relative humidity of 35 - 55 percent, and a temperature of 60 - 75
Don't display works of art on paper in a bathroom, basement, or on a damp
outside wall where excess humidity will damage the paper.
Don't hang a frame over a fireplace where both heat and smoke will
Inspect the frame periodically for any problems that could damage your
Check that the bumpers and hanging mechanism are secure and that the dust
cover is intact.
Inspect the art for signs of mildew, insects, fading, or yellowing of paper.
Restoring paper can cost hundreds of dollars if potential
problems are left untreated.
Sometimes, no amount of money can save them.
Fortunately, most tragedies can be prevented.
If you notice a problem, seek the advice of a qualified paper conservator
immediately. Small defects can be treated easily and generally inexpensively,
if done before the paper sustains permanent damage and deterioration.
Never try to repair a valuable piece of art yourself.
Most amateur repairs worsen the original problem, resulting in the need for more
costly restoration services.
That said, there are some minor problems that can be handled by a cautious and
Surface soil or pencil marks in the margins or verso can be cleaned with a soft
eraser or dry cleaning pad and a soft brush. You should never try to clean the printed
Over cleaning can cause more damage than the dirt itself.
Do not attempt cleaning with water or solvents.
Tiny marginal tears or fold separations can be closed with special archival tapes.
Never repair a tear with common pressure-sensitive (Scotch) tape, because the
adhesive will yellow and permanently stain paper.
Tears that extend into the printed image are best left to the expertise of a
conservator. We are the temporary custodians of the items in our collection.
If we do not take proper steps to preserve our collections they will be lost to the
ravages of time.
The loss of a piece of art impoverishes both our society and us as collectors and
caretakers of our artist heritage.
The Curatorial Care of Works of Art on Paper.
Intermuseum Conservation Association, 1978. ·
How to Care for Works of Art on Paper.
Francis W. Dolloff and Roy L. Perkinson.
Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1977. ·
The Care of Prints and Drawings.
Margaret Holbein Ellis.
Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1987.
PO Box 4901 Syracuse,
NY 13221-4901 800-448-6160
University Products Inc.
517 Main Street PO Box 101 Holyoke,
MA 01041-01011 800-628-4847
Light Impressions - Archival Supplies
PO Box 22708 Rochester,
NY 14692-2708 800-828-6216
E. Gerber Products
1720 Belmont Avenue - Suite C Baltimore,
MD 21244 800-796-9527
For a listing of conservators in your area, please
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works
1717 K Street NW Suite 301 Washington,
DC 20006 (202) 452-9545