Monday, April 8, 2013

A Sticky Situation: Preserving Autographed Sport Memorabilia

One of my favorite projects from 2012 was a large collection of autographed trading cards from various sports players.

Joe Dimaggio, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Walt Frazier, Jim Plunkett, Andre LaCroixthis collection had it all. Cards autographed by both major and minor sports stars from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Unfortunatelylike so many collections from the pastthe cards were being stored in several of those sticky, crumbling old photo albums from the 1970s. You know the kind...
Everything surrounding the collection was acidic, and this was decreasing the value of the autographs more and more each day. From the harmful plastic page covers, sticky old glue to the crumbling cardboardeven the wood drawers they were being stored inthe very elements in place to protect this memorabilia were actually contributing to its decay.
Without archiving, this piece of sports history wouldn't last another 10 years.

As a solution, we de-acidified the autographs and used a heat treatment to remove cards that were stuck to the album (if they didn't just fall out on their own, that is).
This process stopped the further deterioration, and immediately caused the paper to brighten.

We then scanned each autograph in order to create a digital catalogue that our client could access through iPhoto (a program the client was already familiar with and could use easily at home). We also added keywords and carefully thought-out metatags so the images could easily be searched for within iPhoto.

The original cards were then placed in acid-free archival sleeves and sealed inside an archival buckram binder and matching slipcase.

We used clear archival photo corners to hold some of the smaller photos in place. All were mounted on or buffered with acid-free paper.

Finally, we created a beautiful hard cover coffee table book through so that our client could reference both the images and the file names easily. This kind of archival book is not only an attractive memento, but can now be used for insurance purposes. It can even be kept in a safe as a backup to the collection. Our clients can also use these books as a reference to the file names in digital collection.

Archiving is a wonderful way to secure a piece of history and simultaneously have a lovely bound book to show to others. No more sticky photo albums!

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