How to Care for Paper Collectibles

From wearing cotton gloves to using acid-free materials, learn how to care for your paper collectibles the right way.


| July 2012



Tips Tools And Techniques

“Tips, Tools, and Techniques” by long-time antiques expert Dr. Georgia Kemp Caraway provides answers to questions about the cleaning and maintenance of common antique and collectible objects, including metal advertising signs, glassware, clothing, and jewelry. Compact yet authoritative, this handbook will appeal to dealers and buyers, as well as everyone with something from Grandma in the attic.

Photo courtesy University of North Texas Press

Paper becomes the physical imprint of time, from the Declaration of Independence to a photo of a 5-year-old’s birthday party. Recorded memories on this essential medium help us learn where we came from and help us plan where we are going. Learn how to care for and preserve your paper collectibles, or ephemera, from this excerpt in Tips, Tools, and Techniques (University of North Texas Press, 2012) by Georgia Kemp Caraway. 

Consult a paper restorer for rare paper articles. Dealers and collectors also refer to paper collectibles as ephemera. 

• Maintain a constant temperature in the room where paper collectibles are stored. Temperatures of 60–70 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity between 40 and 50 percent.

• Wear cotton gloves when handling paper items to protect paper from perspiration, oils, stains, and acidity.

• Remove creases and surface dirt from paper collectibles before framing and displaying the items.

• Use a bone folder to remove creases from paper documents. Begin in the center of the document and press the bone folder lightly along the back of the crease in a outward direction and toward the edge of the paper. Frame the document when it is flat and clean.