The Ultimate Guide on How To Store Autographed Photos September 23 2020
Collecting pieces of personalized memorabilia is a pastime that has its roots in the mid-19th century. At that time, readers began to collect the autographs of their favorite authors. The invention of photography and its popularity with people from all walks of life fueled the continued fascination with autographed photos.
Today, signed and personalized photographs from stars of both the present and past can fetch thousands of dollars at auction. From an authentic autographed photo of Walt Disney with his telltale signature to rare Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe signed snapshots, autographed photos are highly collectible and, as such, worthy of protection.
Here, we'll outline the best ways to store your autographed memorabilia, helping you protect its value from one year to the next.
Storing Your Treasured Memorabilia
Your favorite signed photographs have both personal and monetary value. If you have an autographed photograph of the ballerina Anna Pavlova or an historic signed photo of an American president like John F. Kennedy, you don't want to store such treasures anywhere.
Items made from paper and ink are subject to deterioration. Allowing items such as old photographs to sit out unprotected can speed up this deterioration process and reduce the value of your revered autographed photos.
It's crucial to store your signed memorabilia in a manner that's designed to safeguard its quality.
You want to be able to preserve the photographs and signatures that adorn them for generations to come. In this guide, we'll discuss the best ways to store your autographed photos whether you have a large or small collection.
What Is the Best Way to Store Autographed Photos?
As some of the best and most well-known autograph dealers, we at Tamino Autographs encourage our customers to consider storage of their autographed photos carefully. We take immense care with our own inventory of signed memorabilia to ensure that we maintain its quality.
We want to share our storage solutions with you in this helpful guide so that you, too, can protect your historic signed photographs and your investment in them. Not only are signed photos likely to hold their value, many will actually increase in value over time. The best-preserved materials are the ones that are the most sought after and the ones that will fetch the most money at sale time.
In our guide, we'll discuss the best solutions for safely displaying your archival-quality photos as well as the best ways to store those items you don't intend to display. We've provided multiple options to help you choose the best solutions for your memorabilia collections. Read on to learn about the best tools and equipment for safely displaying and storing your treasured autographed photos and memorabilia.
Storage Solutions to Display Your Signed Photographs
If you have a signed photo of Babe Ruth with his bat or an autograph photo of Linda Carter on the set of Wonder Woman, you might naturally want to show them off. It's no surprise that collectors love to display their signed memorabilia whether they obtained it from an autograph dealer or from the icon who actually signed it and presented the photo to them. Fortunately, there are some excellent options for safely displaying and preserving items at the same time.
Frame Your Autographed Photos
Choose a frame that makes a statement while safely stowing your signed photograph. These days, you'll have a wide selection of photos to choose from. You might opt for a traditional gold-plated wooden gallery frame or an ultra-chic floating glass frame with modern appeal. The frame's aesthetics are entirely optional; however, you'll want to keep these tips and tricks in mind when choosing frames for your treasured memorabilia.
First, when choosing a photo frame shop or store, be sure that it has the capability to frame items using conservation-grade framing materials. It's crucial that you frame your signed autographs and photos with acid-free mats, paper, and other materials that are specifically designed to preserve paper items.
We suggest finding a deep-set frame so that you can mount or display your autographed photos while preventing them from touching the frame's glass. It's important that your autographed image does not touch the glass. If it does touch the glass, the air within the frame can't circulate. This can allow moisture to accumulate, causing your image to stick to the glass.
To avoid this situation, you should find yourself a deep-set frame or an acid-free mat board. The mat will provide a suitable and secure method for holding your image in place while preventing it from touching the glass. Remember that your mat must be archival-grade and / or acid free to ensure that the autographed image maintains its quality appearance and value for the foreseeable future.
Typically, if you obtain your image from an autograph dealer or other source, the paper used for the signed autograph will contain a natural acid called lignin. When the lignin reacts with other types of acid, the paper will become brittle and yellow. This can cause a decrease in your memorabilia's value and collectability.
Additionally, you should also choose an acid-free backboard to complement your mat. The backboard will go behind your image, and while it isn't visible, it does come in contact with the image, so it should be archival grade or acid free.
Direct sunlight should be avoided, remember that no glass can provide 100% UV protection, sunlight should be indirect at worst, completely avoided if possible. Keep also in mind that ink from ted felt tip pens tend to fade quicker, then blue, then the rest.
Use a Display Case
A display case that is crafted from acrylic or glass is an ideal choice for showcasing your autographed items such as larger or thicker photos. Display cases are popular options, especially if you want to showcase other items alongside your signed photograph such as a signed baseball, jersey, or musical instrument.
If you have items that are too complex to frame, a display case is the obvious choice. Moreover, you can remove the displayed object easily or simply leave them within the case indefinitely. The case will protect your items from dust, spills, or even pests like insects.
Display cases are widely available today online, in craft stores, or in shops that specialize in framing and selling archival materials. Display cases are a great option if you want to create a focal point in your space. You can add lighting features and add additional display cases to create an exhibition for multiple autographed items in your collection.
Just keep in mind that direct sunlight is something to be weary of as you set up your display case. You should make sure that your display case or glass cabinet isn't exposed to direct UV light or you can trigger the lignin contained in the photographic paper to turn yellow at an accelerator rate. Direct sunlight is a serious threat to the safe preservation of your autograph collection and its value.
Storage Solutions for Signed Photos That Will Not be Directly Displayed
Often, people who collect autographed photos and other historic memorabilia aren't able or willing to display everything in their collection. Some people don't have enough wall space to frame and show off their vintage autographed photos. Other people simply choose to keep their valuable autograph collection stored out of sight. To store your memorabilia, you'll have many different options to consider. Here, we've outlined a few of the most popular methods for storing signed autographed photos.
Acrylic toploaders can even be displayed if you choose to showcase them on an easel stand. You can find these toploaders in many different types and sizes, ranging from 3x4 inches to 32x43 inches. You can often save money on these materials by purchasing them in bulk. We often purchase acrylic topload holders from Ultra Pro directly from the manufacturer or via Amazon.
PVC-Free Plastic Sleeves
Many collectors create autograph books or scrapbooks using PVC-free plastic sleeves that can be stowed in binders. These sleeves keep items well protected but also visible for collectors. If you have a rare or valuable collection, you may want to store your items in these sleeves and then place them in a locked cabinet or safe, away from prying hands, nosy guests, kids, burglars, or even mischievous pets.
To create a flipbook for your photograph collection, you'll need to purchase the number of PVC-free plastic sleeves (with binder holes) as well as some acid-free paper to serve as a buffer for your images. First, place your acid-free paper into your PVC-free plastic sleeves. Next, place your autographed image into the plastic sleeves with one either side of the acid-free paper to maximize your space. Then, slide you PVC-free plastic sheets on wooden dowels at regular intervals. Ensure that there is no contact between the wood and your autographed photos. Finally, mount your wooden dowels at the top of your safe or cabinet. This will allow you to easily flick between your images without actually touching them.
Keep in mind that not all plastic storage sleeves are equal. PVC is quite sensitive to heat, you don´t want it in contact with your collectibles since it can damage them at higher temperature. You must choose PVC-free plastic sheets because other plastics can age and release harmful chemicals in the process that can damage your photos. In severe cases, these chemicals can cause tears in the image and even holes.
Make sure your plastic sleeves are sold as "archival" or "archival safe", and are only made of Mylar (polyester), polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP). Cellophane (a thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose) bags or sleeves are also safe, although quite more expensive than the safe plastic alternatives.
Use a Photo Box
An archival-grade photo box is a simple yet effective means for storing your autographed photographs and vintage memorabilia. You can use these boxes to store hundreds or even thousands of photos safely. Many archival storage boxes come with acid-free envelopes within them and compartments for securely storing your items. These photo boxes may also feature metal reinforced edges for enhanced durability.
When shopping for archival storage boxes, be leary of cheap imposters. There are many photo box products sold today but many do not feature archival-grade materials. These cheap boxes may also contain plastic that, as mentioned, can release toxic chemicals that will cause your photos to degrade prematurely, altering their appearance and reducing their value.
Remember that when storing your photo boxes or any other containers for your memorabilia to keep temperature in mind. Humidity and moisture are your collection's worst enemies. Store your collection in a cool temperature that is below 75 degrees Fahrenheit and be sure that the room is well ventilated.
Classic Ring Binder
You can use a classic ring binder to store your signed photos to, only don't affix
the images. Don't tape them or glue them. As with previous storage materials, your binder should feature acid-free paper and contain no sticky or adhesive residues that can compromise the condition of your memorabilia.
Avoid the use of 'peel and stick' binders that are widely sold today. Although these binders can keep items secure, their residues can trigger the lignin in the images to turn the paper yellow and brittle. These binders are usually produced using cheap glues, plastics, and cardboard--materials that have no business coming into contact with valuable paper items like your signed photographs.
If you have your heart set on creating a photo album for your collection of autographs, we recommend purchasing an acid-free magnetic photo album. Often, these items are sold in set form and come with a binder, removable archival sheets, archival ink (for use on the archival sheets--not your image), and photo corners to reinforce any edges that may be weak.
Closing Notes and Tips
Tamino Autographs would like to offer some final advice concerning the optimum storage and display of your cherished autographed photographs. We suggest that you always wear cotton gloves when you handle your autograph collection as the oils on your skin can adhere to the surface of your photos and can mar them. If you do intend to handle your memorabilia, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly first.
The natural oils and sweat contained on your skin can cause the images to turn yellow or sully them. Your skin's oils and sweat can also cause the ink on the image to smudge, reducing your autograph's value. If you've ever created a Polaroid photo and only carefully gripped the edges (not the middle of the photo), you should practice the same technique when holding your valuable autographed images.
We hope you will find our ultimate guide on how to safely display and store autographed photos helpful. We certainly abide by our own advice when maintaining our inventory of autographed images and valuable memorabilia.
For more information about autographs for sale, we invite you to continue to check in with Tamino Autographs and read our blog for updates. We have a wide selection of autographed photos in stock now at our online shop. Check out what's on sale now. We're always adding more to our inventory.
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