I have some old documents and want them to remain in as good a condition as possible. How should I handle and care for them?
Among the media saved by museums, archives and libraries, antique paper is fairly durable. The high rag content of old paper and good quality of ink used by our forbearers helps explain why we are able to read John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence over two centuries later. Enemies to long-term conservation are fire, exposure to extreme light, great fluctuation in temperature and humidity, bugs and contact with corrosive materials. Tape and glue should not be used in the vicinity of antique paper; if present they should be left in place or removed by a trained conservator. Institutions and collectors take care to store documents in acid-free sleeves, files and boxes, available from library supply companies. Curators handle antique paper documents with gloves, to avoid contact between the object and the contaminating substances found on our skin.