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Stamp Collecting

Stamp Collecting : Preserving and Conserving Your Collection

Preservation Primer for Collectors
Series of Articles written by Linda Edquist, Conservation Specialist

Environmental Conditions

Vinyl Enclosures

Inherent Vice


Unfolding Letters

Environmental Conditions

The goal of caring for your treasures does not have to be an overwhelming or all consuming task, particularly if you approach the project in phases. The most important thing you can do is to improve the overall "environmental conditions."

This can mean something as simple as moving boxes from a hot attic or damp basement to an area less prone to extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations. Many materials, especially paper and textiles, are hygroscopic, which means they are physically responsive to moisture and temperature changes.

Inappropriate environmental conditions promote harmful chemical reactions and encourage mold growth and insect activity. The accelerated deterioration manifests itself in visible signs of damage:
  • cockling (distortions and rippling of paper)
  • warping (of book covers, for example)
  • foxing (reddish-brown spots on paper and textiles)
This is why it's imperative to move your treasures to an environment that will prevent further damage. Of course, most people store things in the basement or attic to get them out of the way. Fortunately, you don't always have to sacrifice prime living space to safeguard your collectibles.

You can safely store objects
  • under a bed—as long as they are kept in a covered box
  • in a closet—especially a closet set along an interior wall
  • at the back of a bookshelf—if they are in small boxes
  • on a high shelf in a finished basement—but avoid using shelving along exterior concrete walls or near the floor
Wherever you feel comfortable year round, so will your precious collections and heirlooms. Just remember—avoid displaying or storing your objects in well lighted areas; in hot, humid or excessively dry areas; or near exterior doors.

Once objects have been damaged, they are altered forever. A conservator can stabilize and repair the piece, but its visual appearance will suffer . . . as will the owner's purse when the conservator's fee is paid.

Preservation Video

Preserving Your Family Treasures
Minnesota Historical Society
345 Kellogg Blvd. West
St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
Phone: (651) 296-6126


Conservation Resources and References

Scheduling a Preservation Lecture

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