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Tips for Protecting Family Heirlooms

By: Huntsville Real Estate Expert Mike Manosky On August 25, 2017

Family heirlooms are treasures that evoke memories of the past and hold great sentimental value.  Keeping them safe and well preserved is important. There are many kinds of keepsakes. What may seem not very special to one person, might be the most cherished of items to another.  The following tips will help you preserve them and keep the memories alive:

Paper Documents

Don’t make the mistake of keeping precious papers in a box somewhere. Paper is vulnerable to crumbling and fading if it is exposed to too much light, heat or moisture.  You can keep documents safe by placing them in acid-free envelopes or folders.  When you want to look at them, make sure your hands are clean and dry. Avoid using lotion on your hands if you know you are going to be handling paper heirlooms.  Three ring binders are excellent for keeping documents organized and safe.  Keep them in temperature controlled parts of the house to avoid deterioration due to heat and moisture.

Books

Like paper documents, books need to be kept away from heat, bright light and anything highly acidic.  If you want to keep a book pristine, interleaf the pages with acid-free tissue paper.  If you keep favorite books on a shelf, make sure it is not exposed to too much sunlight.  They will fade over time, but keeping them out of harsh conditions will make them last longer.

Photographs

Many people have photographs stored in old-school albums where they are stuck on the pages by adhesive. Unfortunately, many of these old albums are not acid-free and will cause the photographs to deteriorate and fade over time. To preserve them, remove them from these albums and place them in PVC-free plastic sleeves, which can then be placed in binders.  If you are lucky enough to still have the negatives from old photos, keep them safe so that you can replace pictures if they are destroyed or lost.

Textiles

When preserving textiles such as quilts, wedding dresses, baptismal gowns or antique linens, you want to make space for flat storage.  It’s vital that you keep them in an acid-free box and in an area free of pests.  If you get them cleaned and pressed, make sure starch isn’t used because bugs will attract bugs. Make sure your hands are clean and free of lotion when handling your cloth heirlooms.  Do your research and get professional advice on how to clean them before storing.

Regardless of what kind of treasure you are attempting to preserve, it is advisable that you never store them in the attic or basement. Extreme temperatures and humidity will harm stored artifacts.  Keep your boxes and binders of family heirlooms in a closet or on a shelf in your temperature controlled living space.  Make sure they are out of direct sunlight.  Not only will this keep them safer and preserve them longer, but it will also make it easier for you to get them out to look at when you want to take a trip down memory lane!

 

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