To repair or not to repair?

October 29, 2008 by  
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We receive many questions every year about all aspects of the newspaper collecting hobby, and now with our Blog reaching all customers who are online we have the opportunity to share with everyone answers to questions many have had. Here are two collector Morris Brill submitted:

1) What is the best way to preserve and store newspapers?
One of the delights of this hobby–and pleasant surprises for many–is that most pre-1880 newspapers require very little care. Newsprint of this era had a high rag/cotton/linen content which means it can last for hundreds of years with little effect. Just keep such newspapers our of sunlight, high humidity and high heat and I’m sure they will outlive you and your children. Keeping such issues out in the open and handling them, with care, can be perfectly acceptable. If you want to provide that extra protection for more choice issues you might do as we do. We keep each issue of our private collection in its own archival folder we custom make at our offices, and then group such issues by theme of era in archival storage boxes such as those available from Light Impressions. We also provide presentation cases which are nice for sharing a collection with others as each holds many issues and the zip case makes them easily portable as well.

Issues from the post-1880 era are a bit more problematic, as such issues have a much higher woodpulp & chemical content which will cause them to become brown & brittle with age. Such issues are more demanding of the protective products mentioned and are encouraged for their proper storage & care.

2) Does taping a newspaper with archival tape diminish its value? Is it better to leave it ripped or repair the paper?
I believe that using archival tape to repair tears is preferable to leaving tears unmended. Be careful never to use regular tape as found in retail stores! Through experience I have learned that unrepaired tears simply get worse when handling, so a two inch tear could easily become a five inch tears unless one is extremely careful in turning pages. This tape is one inch wide and I slit it into quarter inch strips, making for more discreet repairs and extending the life of a roll fourfold. Simply apply and burnish the repair with your fingernail and the repair, while not transparent, should not be distracting and will allow handling the issue without worry of making the tear worse. I tend to do the repair on the side either less visible (page 2 of a front leaf tear) or the page without the historic content (page 1 if page 2 has the key content). Keep in mind that museums and historical institutions make archival repair an important part of their preservation philosophy.

Note:  Although we do provide archival solutions, similar products may be purchased through quality hobby and photography vendors/stores.

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