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  Preserving and storing astronaut autographs

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Author Topic:   Preserving and storing astronaut autographs
Sam Que
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Posts: 130
From: Chicago, IL, United States
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 12-08-2009 11:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Que   Click Here to Email Sam Que     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like to place my autographed photos in preservation sleeves. What I have seen at the photo shops seems flimsy.

Any advise as to a product which will hold an 8x10" photo and offer UV protection would be appreciated. I will probably place them in a binder. Thanks in advance for any input.

micropooz
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From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 12-08-2009 11:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not familiar with any photo sleeves that are also UV resistant. Will be interesting to hear if there are any out there.

I have had great luck with Light Impressions Archival LockTop Polypropylene Storage Pages, item 7731. They are sturdy, inert, and the lock top keeps your photo from inadvertently sliding out.

MarkRP
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From: Michigan, USA
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posted 12-09-2009 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarkRP   Click Here to Email MarkRP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For photos I use Avery Diamond Clear Heavyweight Presentation Sheet Protectors. I get them from staples.com. They are acid free and archival safe. Never once had a problem with them. For storage I put the sleeved photos in museum grade 3-ring binder boxes. You can stand them on their side so that the photos hang which I think is better for long term preservation. I get them from bagsunlimited.com, product code X799-1112.

mjanovec
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From: Midwest, USA
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posted 12-11-2009 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mylar is one of the few materials that is totally inert and approved for true photo archiving. I buy the mylar (aka polyester) photo pockets (open on two sides) from Bags Unlimited and place my photos in them before sliding them into a second (outer) sleeve made for 3-ring binders (usually the Avery "acid free" sleeves that Mark P. mentioned). While the Avery sleeve on it's own might be fine, I've learned not to trust most consumer brand claims of being "archival safe." Unless they use truly inert materials like mylar, I'll always add the extra mylar sleeve to form a barrier between the photo and the outer sleeve. I also stuff an acid free board in the outer sleeve to make it rigid, to add a little more protection from bends and creases. It might be a little overboard, but an extra dollar or two to protect each photo is a small price to pay.

For UV protection, you probably don't need it if you are just storing it in an opaque-covered binder (and keeping it closed).

Sam Que
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From: Chicago, IL, United States
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 12-12-2009 01:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Que   Click Here to Email Sam Que     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all for your input. Obviously, UV protection wont be an issue to worry about. Its amazing how many photos I have collected over the years and it is a waste to have them sitting in a box. Thanks again.

Spacefest
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From: Tucson, AZ USA
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posted 12-12-2009 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If they are prone to fading, like old KODAK paper, dark won't stop it. Nothing will.


Sam Que
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From: Chicago, IL, United States
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 12-12-2009 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Que   Click Here to Email Sam Que     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am sure the signed photos I purchased through the years from Novaspace mounted and framed won't fade. At least in my lifetime.

mjanovec
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From: Midwest, USA
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posted 12-12-2009 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spacefest:
If they are prone to fading, like old KODAK paper, dark won't stop it. Nothing will.

But one could argue that light won't help them either. Every color photo fades over time. Making the right decisions about storage, however, can help prolong their life. Some of those vintage NASA photos that are 40-50 years old still look pretty good...if they have been stored properly.

Perhaps the most troublesome items prone to fading are the signatures Armstrong signed in blue ink. But we see a range of fading on them, based on how well (or poorly) they were displayed/stored.

Spacefest
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From: Tucson, AZ USA
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posted 12-13-2009 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, our photos won't fade noticeably for 75 years or more. That's because they ore printed on good Japanese paper (Fuji.)

Fading is the least of the worries on old NASA KODAK glossies. They also curl, yellow, and crack. Newer KODAK paper (shuttle) is fine.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 05-17-2010 08:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a small collection of printed items. Autographs, brochures, advertisements, beta cloth and things like that.

Someday I will get around to proper framing of these items but for now, rather than have them sit unseen in boxes or envelopes I thought I might keep them in some kind of binder in those plastic sheet protector things.

Can anyone suggest a quality brand/concept for proper preservation and display?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

mjanovec
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From: Midwest, USA
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posted 05-18-2010 03:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See my post above about polyester sleeves (aka mylar, melinex, PET, etc.). It's the only thing I trust for long term storage of photos.

Al Sep
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From: USA
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posted 05-28-2010 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Al Sep   Click Here to Email Al Sep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Along these lines, I've wondered the following for quite some time now:

Would storing the photos (signed or not) in a "near vacuum" retard their deterioration significantly? Say, for example, putting the binder, slip case, whatever, in one of those space bags and then vacuuming out the air?

What component(s) of our atmosphere degrade either paper or photographic emulsions? I'm sure higher humidity is more damaging. Does some sort of oxidization occur?

In lieu of a vacuum, would the use of a desiccant help?

Excuse my ignorance, chemistry was not one of my stronger subjects.

woodg2
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Posts: 78
From: Burke, VA
Registered: Feb 2010

posted 07-10-2010 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for woodg2   Click Here to Email woodg2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been collecting for about 15 years and my wife is an avid scrapbooker. I have learned a lot from her about storing my collection and now use scrapbooking materials exclusively to preserve my signed photos, postal covers, etc.

The biggest surprise to me was that there is actually an ISO standard for the basic photo safety requirements for albums, frames, and storage materials, to include adhesives and papers, to be considered safe for long term storage. She is actually a consultant for a company called Creative Memories that specializes in this kind of thing.

If you want a good synopsis of the ISO 18902 standard, you can go to her website. Look under "Our Company" then click on "Dedication to Quality" and then follow a hyperlink "ISO 18902" in the text.

While I'm sure she would be happy to sell you something, or even just answer your questions, that is not the point of this post. The information on the page should help you to make smart choices in your storage materials regardless of where you purchase them.

steelhead fly fishing
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From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 03-15-2011 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for steelhead fly fishing   Click Here to Email steelhead fly fishing     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm leaning towards making scans of my 12 photo moonwalker collection and taking the originals out of the frames and replacing them with scans.

The photos are currently on a wall in a dry cool room and I have moisture (damp rid) bags in the closet to minimize humidity. They are not exposed to sunlight and the actual picture does not touch the glass but rather touches the mat on its edges. There is a part of me that loves the originals hanging there but I'm inclined to replace them with a high quality scan.

I was wondering what the general feeling is about displaying originals vs. using a quality copy and storing the original to maintain its mint condition longer. Also, I would appreciate everyone's best tip for storage and preservation. Thanks.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

xlsteve
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From: Holbrook MA, USA
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 03-15-2011 03:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by steelhead fly fishing:
I was wondering what the general feeling is about displaying originals vs. using a quality copy and storing the original to maintain its mint condition longer. Also, I would appreciate everyone's best tip for storage and preservation.
With only a couple of exceptions I display scans on my wall and keep the originals in archival sleeves. That way I don't worry about them getting damaged or faded, and if one does i can simply make a replacement print. Another advantage for my situation is that I have way more photos than wall space, so I will often rotate the scanned photos I display.

In terms of storage my tip is that if you have any photos signed with paint pen use a sheet of acid-free paper to slip in front of the photo to keep the paint from getting stuck to the sleeve.

Tykeanaut
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From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
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posted 03-17-2011 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Keep originals safe and display scans/copies.

wharfrat57
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From: Heath, Ohio, United States
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posted 03-18-2011 08:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wharfrat57   Click Here to Email wharfrat57     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I display scanned copies and keep the originals in a 3 ring binder. I also do the same with signed covers. I've been thinking about putting my binder in a safe deposit box at our local bank but not sure abou this. I'd really hate to have anything happen to this binder (theft, fire, etc) I'd also read the threads about insuring these items as well.

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
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posted 03-18-2011 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My thoughts on this are contrary to most. I buy memorabilia for myself - period. I get a great deal of enjoyment sitting in my space room and gazing at whatever catches my eye - a photo, model, Alan Bean print or a lunar flown checklist. All are signed.

I would not get the same reaction looking at scans - after all, the thrill for me is looking at the actual item that was signed or flown, not at a copy of that item.

I spend a lot to have items framed archivally and the room receives no direct sunlight, but beyond those precautions these items are for my enjoyment and no one else's. To hide them away so they are in good shape after I'm gone seems counterproductive to why I collect.

These are my opinions only and I respect those who feel otherwise. Thanks.

Greggy_D
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From: Michigan
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 03-22-2011 09:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
I would not get the same reaction looking at scans - after all, the thrill for me is looking at the actual item that was signed or flown, not at a copy of that item.

I agree 110%. A scan just doesn't do it for me.

MrSpace86
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From: Gardner, KS, USA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 03-23-2011 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It never caught my attention to place high value items in safety deposit boxes. If anyone were to do that, it would be because you are more concerned about the value of the item over enjoying the actual item. I am not saying mistreat the item and expose to weird elements, but keeping it locked away defeats the whole purpose. To me, collecting space memorabilia equates to learning how to obtain, preserve, and protect the items on my own, not the overall or future value.

xlsteve
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From: Holbrook MA, USA
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 03-23-2011 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MrSpace86:
To me, collecting space memorabilia equates to learning how to obtain, preserve, and protect the items on my own, not the overall or future value.
I agree, but part of my enjoyment of my signed photos is knowing that they are safe and preserved, I'm not doing it to protect the value. Besides, I'm the only one who knows that they're scans. As far as my reaction at looking at scans on the wall, I know that if I had the originals displayed I would be looking at them thinking "man, I hope these aren't getting faded," because you don't know until its too late. But maybe I'm just a worrier.

On top of the protection aspect, its pretty costly (for me anyway) to frame original pieces properly with acid-free matting and backing and with UV glass etc. The few original pieces I do have displayed are framed that way, but I can't afford to frame everything I want to display like that, so with my scans I can display many more photos comparatively cheaply.

MrSpace86
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From: Gardner, KS, USA
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posted 03-23-2011 01:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Definitely. Once you cross the hundreds (in autographs for example), displaying them is crazy! I have them all in archival safe plastic sheets in binders in a dark room. Since I collect sports memorabilia as well, the signed basketballs, helmets, etc are in UV resistant cases in a dark room where no sunlight gets in.

Sam Que
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Posts: 130
From: Chicago, IL, United States
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 03-23-2011 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Que   Click Here to Email Sam Que     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For those of you who scan their photos. Any recommendation on a good scanner?

J.L
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Posts: 491
From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 03-23-2011 05:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sam Que:
Any recommendation on a good scanner?
Anything made by Epson. I spend hours with mine each day.

Sam Que
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Posts: 130
From: Chicago, IL, United States
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 03-23-2011 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Que   Click Here to Email Sam Que     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That recommendation is good enough for me. I have all of your Apollo disks and some Gemini disks and the photos are all crystal clear.

yeknom-ecaps
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From: Northville MI USA
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posted 01-23-2012 11:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Comparing archival sleeves:
  • Staples box says: PVC, acid and latex free, archival quality.

  • Avery box just says Poly-Vu archival won't lift print pages.
Price is pretty different - are they both okay to use?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

mjanovec
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From: Midwest, USA
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posted 01-23-2012 11:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I tend not to trust most consumer brand photo sleeves for truly valuable photos. Some are advertised as archival or acid free, but that doesn't mean they can't do damage over time.

See my recommendation near the top of this discussion for using mylar (aka polyester) sleeves. Mylar is totally inert and is the best material for archival preservation.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 01-24-2012 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What ^ he said ...

I use sleeves from Archival Methods, but there are other good providers of mylar sleeves. They really don't cost much, and most providers (including Archival) also sell really nice lay-flat binders that travel well and show well.

schnappsicle
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From: Houston, TX, USA
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posted 01-27-2012 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I only collect autographed photos. The vast majority of my photos are 8x10. I have also purchased a set of panoramas from Moonpans, which I had signed by the astronaut at the last Spacefest.

I keep all my photos in frames, hanging on my wall so I can enjoy them. Many years ago, I had a Dave Scott hanging on my wall in a frame and moisture got into the frame, which fused the photo to the glass. I saved most of the photo, including the autograph itself, but there's a white circle near where the flag used to be.

That's the main reason I don't keep my photos in a binder these days. I also worry about the pages getting creased or folded somehow.

Now when I hang pictures, I make sure to purchase frames with mats, archival of course, to keep space between the photo and the glass. The glass is always UV coated to protect the photo from damage.

The frames I use are made by a company called Nielsen Bainbridge. An 8x10 frame can be found for around $15 anywhere. I've even picked them up from Bed, Bath & Beyond of all places. I have six Mercury and 10 Gemini photos in those frames.

I started running out of room on my wall, so for my Apollo photos, I decided to put each crew together in a single frame. Those frames are virtually identical to the 8x10 frames I purchased, but they all had to be custom made. I found a place in Austin called Balcones Frames that does great work for me. They do all my custom frames, including my six lunar surface pans. They also cut the holes in the mats, which can be different sizes depending on whether the photo has a border or not.

I used to get standard UV glass for the frames I bought from them, but I tried taking apart my Apollo 12 frame once to change out the Bean, and the glass broke. Ever since then, I've been getting their UV Plexiglass.

Rick Mulheirn
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From: England
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posted 01-27-2012 06:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
I've been getting their UV Plexiglass
In my opinion, UV plexiglas is of limited use, if anything lulling people in to a false sense of security.

A year or so back I had an opportunity to purchase an uninscribed Deke Slayton WSS litho that had been removed from a frame made up with UV plexiglas.

I think the framed print had come originally from Novaspace who as we know use top notch materials and do an excellent framing job.

There was a very distinct 1/4" dark "border" inside the white edge to the litho clearing showing the portion of the litho that had been covered by the matte.

The rest of the litho had clearly faded.

I only ever frame scanned copies which are virtually indistinguishable from the original to all but the most trained eye.

Shuttle Endeavour
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posted 10-13-2013 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shuttle Endeavour   Click Here to Email Shuttle Endeavour     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was wondering if anyone had any experience storing autographs in fireproof safes?

I read on two sites that they hold too much humidity and will eventually harm the autographs. I was wondering if this was true and if so, is there any way to protect astronaut autographs from a fire?

Mike_The_First
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From: Joliet, IL
Registered: Jun 2014

posted 10-14-2014 11:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I keep my autographed pictures in a large binder.

I've noticed that when my binder isn't full enough, the sheets that I have the photos in bend if I don't give them a sight tug every time I close the binder.

Is this normal or do I need to find new binders?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

cycleroadie
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From: Apalachin, NY USA
Registered: May 2011

posted 10-15-2014 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cycleroadie   Click Here to Email cycleroadie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To keep them from bending, I keep mine inside a soft acid-free sleeve, then that goes into a hard acid free sleeve, then that goes into an acid free binder sleeve in the binder. Overkill? Perhaps, but better save than sorry I say.

Sam Que
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Posts: 130
From: Chicago, IL, United States
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 10-15-2014 12:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Que   Click Here to Email Sam Que     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Shuttle Endeavour:
I was wondering if anyone had any experience storing autographs in fireproof safes?
I keep mine in a fireproof safe. For moisture I use silicon moisture canisters. If anyone has an opinion on this, your thoughts would be appreciated.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ
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posted 10-15-2014 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I use D-ring binders. Autographs are sleeved in supposedly archival sleeves, with a cardstock backer with the astronaut's name and flights, or if it's a CP, the name of the flight and name of craft, maybe a nrief description of the flight (e.g., "Magellan deployment") and then a listing of the crew and their positions.

David Carey
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From:
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posted 10-15-2014 03:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rick Mulheirn:
In my opinion, UV plexiglas is of limited use, if anything lulling people in to a false sense of security.

I'd missed your earlier comment here, Rick. For me, and perhaps others, it's an important topic.

While not UV Plexi, I've recently been through a process to convert all framed/shadow-boxed/hung items - autographs or otherwise - to Museum Glass. Wasn't cheap given the total square footage of glass replaced.

I think both materials claim a 98-99% UV block rate, and I've even double-layered some items, but would hate to learn it's an empty promise.

This older thread covered the topic with some good input from Kim but perhaps there is an updated view.

Any other direct experiences on anti-fade and archival [in]effectiveness of Museum Glass or UV Plexi?

Beau08
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From: Peoria, AZ United States
Registered: Aug 2011

posted 10-15-2014 09:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I too keep about twenty autographed lithos housed in acid free archival sleeves stored in safe. I perform one high quality scan of each and keep the file on my computer. I have them commercially printed and that is what I display. From three feet away you cannot tell the difference, and I don't need to worry about UV, theft or falling off the wall and being damaged by glass.

David Carey
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posted 10-16-2014 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Understood but, like some others up-thread, I get the most enjoyment out of seeing the actual objects.

More broadly, some items 'under glass' are not amenable to traditional scanning and reprinting (Apollo food packets, manuals/checklists, flight hardware, etc.).

I looked into this a bit more since my concern about efficacy of UV glass or Plexi is one of general conservation. Rick's experience was a real catalyst!

Among other good resources, the Image Permanance Institute provides a nice backgrounder on archival framing/glazing and light-damage mechanisms.

As you'd imagine, acid-free everything and UV-blocking materials are all highlighted.

I did find some (old) experiments that suggests UV materials are basically ineffective, though it was usually an unstable print directly in the window. One person's take was that UV glass is like sunscreen - it buys you time in the sun but not immunity. Make the experiment harsh enough and you will see damage/fading, UV-block or not.

Others point out that visible light adds its own damage factor, and this of course is virtually unfiltered, thus the relative transparency of UV glass or Plexi. Likewise heat from any source drives degradation so watch out for IR as well.

At the risk of stating the obvious, unless you store it all way, your material is best preserved only by archival materials all around and strict limits on direct, indirect, and artificial light. The latter is one reason I added shades on mostly-shadowed windows and went to low-UV/IR LED lamps for the cabinet and room housing everything.

Temp and humidity control are also critical whether items are displayed or stored (see also 'Dark Fade' in the referenced resource).

Could be missing something but I imagine "double-paning" with UV materials would also be a help. UV transmission goes from ~1-2% to 0.1-0.2%, reducing cumulative UV effects by ~10X.

I'm just not ready to swap originals - and in some cases it isn't practical - but with attention to room darkening, religious use of Museum Glass (or similar), double-glazing in places, climate control, and LED lighting, hopefully the long-term impact on an array of object-types will be minimal.

I'm still early in my learning curve so any voices of experience still welcome!

Steve Zarelli
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Posts: 475
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-20-2014 08:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For what it is worth, I just received another order from Bags Unlimited for mylar sleeves. Good products and service.

I use the "tuck lock" sleeves for 8x10s and postal covers. These sleeves are open on 2 short sides, and are heat sealed on one long edge and have a flap closure on the other long edge. I am always concerned about sliding photos and lithos into a tight sleeve... scratching the surface or bending a corner. This is not a concern with tuck lock sleeves. Plus, items look great in the crystal clear, heavy mylar enclosure.

Once in the mylar sleeve, I store my photos in archival quality photo boxes. I typically use this method for more expensive items worth a few hundred bucks or more.

The less expensive stuff goes in a supposedly acid free binder sleeve and in a 3-ring binder. I periodically browse the binders to ensure the sleeves remain fresh, are not yellowing and there is no "sticking" to the photos. Haven't had any issues yet and some of the sleeves are approaching 20 years old.

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