Archive | Advice

Dear Bibliobull – Old news

Dear Bibliobull –

In addition to archiving personal letters, I am also attempting to archive full sheets of newspaper clippings. I don’t wish to fold these and place them in an archival bag, especially as they are fragile and will eventually crumble when unfolded. They are, however, rather large, and were folded at some period in the past before I acquired them.

What is the best way to store these nifty, but awkward nuggets of information?

Clip Filed


Dear Clippy –

Newsprint is the cheapest paper possible; unlike other papers, when it is milled the lignin is not removed from the pulp. It is the lignin that causes the paper to rapidly become brittle and yellow when exposed to air and/or sunlight. So, what you are holding is rapidly aging WHILE you are looking at it.

Ideally you want to deacidify it, and then store it sandwiched between acid free paper in an acid free box, in a deep dark acid free hole and never open the box again. This is fine if you are keeping it for research and you have already scanned it into a computer, but for booksellers and collectors this takes all the fun out of life.

Deacidify it. If you do anything else, you are wasting all your time and effort because the object is STILL breaking down. There are several commercial deacidifiers on the market some are findable off the shelf in scrap booking stores, they are basically 2 chemical compounds, I have mentioned them before. .

Reinforce it. Because it is already fragile and probably folded, you need to put it on a ph neutral backing board. All of the archival suppliers sell forms of this, figure out how much you need and how much you want to spend. You may even be able to get away with the kind of backing boards used for comic books.
• Bagsunlimited.com sells small quanities of various forms of archival and acidfree backing boards.
• University Products sells all sorts and shapes of archival boxes, and folders.

Protect it. If you need this item to be seen by potential buyers, you need to put it some form of plastic. Polyethylene, polypropylene or polyester (mylar) polybags come in an unbelievable range of sizes; up to and including POSTER size. As long as they have been OK’d for long term storage and you are getting it from a reputable seller, you don’t really have to worry.

Hide it. Once you have the item secured to a backboard, and then enrobed in a polybag, you really shouldn’t leave it out in the light. Of anywhere a corner can get bent or dinged or just wrecked, because the item is too big.

You can make or buy an art portfolio. There are some ridiculously cheap ones designed for art students; 17″ x 22″ plastic/zippered cases for under $20. There is NO reason not to have something like this around to secure for objects for sale that are larger than 8″x 11″. Personally I put things into it and shove it safely behind the desk, against the wall, where stuff won’t get wrecked.

All of the above goes double and triple for holograph items, manuscripts and textiles. When in doubt deacidify it, you aren’t gonna hurt it, if it doesn’t need it. Buy you do want to support fragile items YET keep them available for examination.

Biblio Bull-

Dear BiblioBull – Permanent means forever

Dear Bibliobull –

Help! I have a really good book listed at $80 but the FOL wrote $5.00 in big, red magic marker numbers inside the front cover. Bound to lead to an unhappy customer! How do I remove it?

Marked for life


Dear Marked –

If the ink is still bright red, then it was most likely written in red Sharpie® Marker. At Sanford they take the word permanent literally. Their permanent markers are made with solvents and dyes, instead of pigments. [Pigment based markers fade over time.]

Even if you were to find a chemical which would reliquify the dyes, it would only make a bigger mess. Chlorine bleach will only lighten the color, in the case of black it will turn it yellow, and red will go to pink. But by then you have already damaged the paper and boards with the bleach that never evaporates and will continue to break down the fibers over time.

If you were to place a sticker or new endpaper over the one already stained, the dye would be clearly visible underneath.

If you really can’t sell the item as it stands, I would recommend removing the offending endpapers and hope the dye hasn’t gone too deeply into the board. If you can’t find a pastedown to match, you can use the rear free endpaper; it’s an easier flaw to accept. I usually just troll the thrift shops and dollar bins and look for a book slightly larger with the appropriate endpapers.

Good luck, but sometimes forever isn’t just for diamonds.

Biblio Bull-

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