By Katherine Golovinova
People collect memorabilia to treasure memories. Sports fans and movie lovers alike treasure such acquisitions and strive to keep the items in pristine condition. No one in their right mind would want to spend thousands of dollars on a ‘Honus Wagner’ baseball card and then let it decay due to lack of care and attention. This is where preservation, conservation, and restoration of memorabilia come in. First, let’s take a look at what each of these terms mean then I’ll give you some great tips to take care of your stuff.
The term refers to the preventative work done to items in order to maintain their present state. Memorabilia that is well preserved is usually in good to excellent condition. To maintain this state and prevent degradation, preservation steps you could do would include putting cards in protective sleeves, for example.
The total science to, in essence, preserving and restoring items, is “conservation.” Usually, conservation professionals specialize in one type of object or class of items; for instance painting conservators don’t usually work on footballs, movie posters or books.
If the item has already deteriorated to a degree, corrective processes need to be applied to get the item back to its original state, or at least, as close as possible to it. These processes fall under the umbrella of restoration. Paintings and monuments mostly undergo restoration processes every couple of generations to maintain their value.
The Cracked Football
Sports memorabilia, in particular, needs frequent restoration if its not cared for. Frequent restorations often reduce the value. Items like signed baseballs and footballs are made of materials like leather that can crack if they are not stored properly. General care of leather footballs is a relatively easy process that one can perform his self by keeping it clean. But before you put on oils and leather treatments, here’s your important 1st tip: do a little test with the leather dressing and a Q-Tip (in a non conspicuous place) to see how badly the leather might darken! Obviously, your football’s value is because its is signed. Applying a dressing may darken the leather and make your signature much harder to read. Also, many ball point pens are dissolvable in leather dressings and you could smear some of your signatures.
So beware, when someone tells you to wipe your baseball or football down with oil, to add recoloring balm or to apply leather dressing… do a small test first and then ask your memorabilia dealer his/her opinion before setting up your little restoration corner. You could wipe out your investment with a rag.
Ticking Time Bomb
Items such as posters and cards are susceptible to decay due to the acids in the paper which makes some collectibles printed onto low quality materials into a ticking time bomb. The browner the paper looks, the more acid it contains. The acid causes increasing brittleness and can change the color of what is printed, resulting in the inevitable loss of value of a collector’s precious item. Great tip #2: Neutralization or deacidification of the acids is an option if the paper is not coated and should be of utmost priority to any collector worth his salt.
Deacidification sprays are now widely available from archival materials supply houses and should be sprayed with care on paper memorabilia. Get some coaching from the company’s customer service for your specific collectible. Once done, storing the item in an acid-free album or scrapbook is recommended. Super important tip #3: Lamination is a MAJOR NO NO and is considered the kiss of death regarding the value.
Storing and Framing
A large number of sports and music memorabilia, in particular, is in the form of posters and paper clippings. This may include signed posters, pictures, newspaper clippings etc. Once the deacidification process is done, storing and framing are often desired and you should be concerned about doing it right. Tip #4: Storing in an acid-free scrapbook is good. Some people like to put the memorabilia into plastic sleeves and then keep them in an acid free box. Once upon a time glassine paper sleeves were thought to be good for storage but they turn acidic after a short while. Larger posters or pictures cannot be stored like this though. Acid-free tubes can be used to store rolled-up posters; although the roll should be as wide as possible so they don’t get kinked, creased etc.
And very important tip #5: If you intend to frame the memorabilia, any gallery frames will do, but be sure to use ultraviolet filtering -plexi to avoid fading from light. This type of glazing will only filter out some light. Keep sensitive items in low light places. Some of the MOST SENSITIVE things that fade are signatures. For a short video testimonial on this CLICK HERE. All storage and framing materials that come into contact with paper memorabilia should be acid-free. Stable heat and humidity (not big fluxuations) are good for preservation and never have your items in direct path of heating vents.
Sometimes, memorabilia of considerable intrinsic value seems damaged irrevocably. With age, restoration has turned into a science of resurrecting objects from pretty much any state. Of course, as the complexity and amount of restoration increases, the cost climbs up and the intrinsic value decreases. Such restoration can only be done by professionals and is generally only used on items that have significant historic or emotional value.
I’ve just given you a few important tips, but a lot more can be found in a great book “How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster” by Scott M. Haskins. Its available on Amazon and as an e-book down load for ½ price – CLICK HERE. We hope that the post helped you learn about preserving your memorabilia! Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section.
About the author: Katherine Golovinova is a guest blogger. If you are looking for specific signed memorabilia, or if you are concerned with an interesting gift idea you may want to check ones offered on Up North Memorabilia.