Antiques are often passed down from one generation to the next. These heirlooms are treasured as a way to capture memories of loved ones and link us to the past. For collectors, antiques can bring beauty to their home, complete a collection, or raise the value of their investment portfolio. If for no other reason, antiques have intrinsic value due to their age and craftsmanship. Whether you cherish an antique as an heirloom to be passed down through the generations, as an investment, or merely as inventory, the value is based in large part on how well it’s preserved and the way in which it’s stored when not on display.
So, how do you ensure that your antiques are stored in a way that will keep them in top condition? To begin with, make a list of all your antiques. You may also want to include measurements and a description with your list. Get each item appraised so that you have a good idea of its value. If you have any receipts or certificates of authenticity, make sure to file these along with a good photograph of each item. Once each item has been inventoried and appraised, you should get insurance coverage. Remember, if an item is worth storing, it is worth insuring.
The next consideration is to find the proper location and environment in which to store your antiques. You should think twice before storing antiques in your garage, attic or basement, since these locations are prone to have pests as well as temperature and humidity extremes that could damage your valuables. For proper storage, antiques should be kept in a temperature and humidity controlled location such as a climate-controlled storage unit or within your home. You also want to make sure that the location is protected from pests such as moths, cockroaches, or mice. Another consideration is the security of the location. If you will be storing your antiques outside of your home, make sure that the storage facility has security cameras, gated access, and alarms at a minimum.
Once you find the right storage location, you will need to get your valuables there. Transporting your antiques is the step in the process with the most potential to result in damage. If you are having your belongings moved for you, make sure to get a reputable company with plenty of references and opt for insurance coverage. If you are moving yourself, Price Self Storage offers a free truck and driver to help you move as well as complimentary carts and dollies at the facility. Either way, you should rent a drive up unit or an inside unit on the ground floor so moving and accessibility is easiest and damage is limited. If your storage unit is on an upper level, however, it should at least have elevator access.
After moving your antiques, the most important step is to ensure that each item is packed and stored properly. Small items should be stored in closed containers that are clearly marked. If you need to wrap anything to keep it protected, make sure that you use acid-free paper to prevent corrosive damage. Here are some more suggestions for packing specific antique items:
Valuable paintings should be wrapped in glassine (a special air and water resistant paper), placed in clear plastic, and stored inside a custom made wooden crate surrounded by cardboard or foam to further protect it. Artwork should also be stored vertically to reduce the likelihood damage.
Mirrors and other glass items should be covered with bubble wrap, a blanket, or other protective covering and secured with packing tape or plastic stretch wrap. There are also special boxes that are designed specifically for packing mirrors. Mirrors and glass items, like paintings should be stored flat and have nothing on top of them, as this can cause them to break or to collapse under their own weight.
Prior to storage, antique furniture should be dusted, cleaned, and treated with conditioning products. This means that antique wood furniture should be dusted and quality polish applied. Leather items should be treated with leather conditioner and wiped down. Metal objects should also be wiped down with oil prior to being stored. All furniture pieces should be wrapped with blankets, sheets, or plastic stretch wrap or placed in custom bags or covers to keep them safe. Don’t forget to cover exposed areas like chair legs with bubble wrap to protect them. Connected furniture pieces such as a headboard and bed frame should also be disassembled and wrapped separately with the small connecting pieces placed in a plastic bag and taped to the larger pieces. Finally, leave antique furniture separate from other stored items and free-standing. Never stack other items on top of antique furniture or put the furniture on top of other items.
Rugs should be cleaned and vacuumed, rolled up tightly, and double wrapped in plastic.
Books & Documents
Books should be wrapped with acid-free paper and placed within a plastic bag inside a book box. For further protection, place cardboard in between each book to keep the spines straight and to prevent movement. You can also use bubble wrap or foam peanuts to line the box, fill empty spaces, and prevent books from shifting. Never place books in a box with the spines up (paper edges facing down) or at odd angles, which could warp or bend the cover or pages. Antique documents can be safely stored in archival quality plastic sleeves that will help to protect them from deteriorating. These special plastic sleeves can be placed inside an album, or placed separately within a document box.
By choosing the right storage location, doing a little extra preparation, and some very careful moving, your antiques should stay in great condition and you will be able to enjoy them for many years to come.