keeping boxes

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    • #133450

      We received a collection of Barbie dolls MIB and put many of the dolls on display. What is best to do with all the boxes left? We also have metal toy combines, tractors, etc. boxes from toys put into an agriculture exhibit. I know that collectors sometimes really make a big deal about original boxes, but do museums need to keep them and all the packing intact and in permanent storage? Some of the rubber bands and plastic packaging on the dolls had started to deteriorate and cause damage on the dolls, so I doubt that when we took the dolls off exhibit that we would use them to repack the dolls anyway. Any comments or help?

    • #133462
      Peter E. Durbin
      Participant

      Our historical society has just been given an extremely large farm toy collection with the stipulation that all boxes must be retained and stored archivally. This creates not only a storage problem but also raises the cataloging questions of 1) do we match up the catalog number of the toy with that of the correct matching container? and 2)how do organize the storage area – original containers seperate or next to the toys they came in?

      Sometimes there is value in having the items displayed together because of the information found on the original box.

      What are the thoughts of other archivists and curators?

    • #133461

      Common practice in the UK is to view the association of the box and the contents as extremely important. This is recorded when the item is accessioned and both parts (box and contents) would be given the same number with a .suffix to show the relationship – e.g. the number might be 2012.003.1 for the contents and 2012.003.2 for the box.
      Wherever possible the contents are kept in the box to maintain the association. Where this is not possible (e.g. the contents are placed on display or require different storage conditions from the packaging) the items are kept separate, and their two locations re recorded in the society’s documentation. Great care must be taken to make sure the numbers are clearly and unmistakably written on, or attached securely to, all items. Hope this helps. As with all documentation – loss of the information is as severe as loss of the actual object and prevention is much easier than cure !

    • #133460
      Ben Shaw
      Member

      I agree with Helena’s comment. The numbering must associate the two objects (doll and box), and your records must indicate where you have stored each. The idea about displaying box and doll at the same time is interesting, as long as the requirements of both objects are being considered.

    • #133459
      Ella Rayburn
      Member

      Indeed, one must keep the box and the contents — they are both artifacts. If they are not to be stored together, it will be easier to give each a consecutive number. Relate the two objects in the description field of the cat card.
      Plastic dolls and other materials are the latest conservation and curatorial problems. Plastic is a petroleum byproduct or a chemical chain. Plastics in collections are starting to break down. (Barbi and the boyfiend are plastic — on so many levels). National Park Service has written advice re: plastics. Instead of giving the complex link, just google Conserv O Gram and you will be taken to the site. Plastic conserv O gram is number 8/4. While there look at the list of conver O grams. It is extensive and excellent. You will find great assistance at that site and can print off the documents for the price of paying your taxes.
      Ella Rayburn

    • #133458
      Ella Rayburn
      Member

      Indeed, one must keep the box and the contents — they are both artifacts. If they are not to be stored together, it will be easier to give each a consecutive number. Relate the two objects in the description field of the cat card.
      Plastic dolls and other materials are the latest conservation and curatorial problems. Plastic is a petroleum byproduct or a chemical chain. Plastics in collections are starting to break down. (Barbi and the boyfiend are plastic — on so many levels). National Park Service has written advice re: plastics. Instead of giving the complex link, just google Conserv O Gram and you will be taken to the site. Plastic conserv O gram is number 8/4. While there look at the list of conver O grams. It is extensive and excellent. You will find great assistance at that site and can print off the documents for the price of paying your taxes.
      Ella Rayburn

    • #133457
      Ella Rayburn
      Member

      Indeed, one must keep the box and the contents — they are both artifacts. If they are not to be stored together, it will be easier to give each a consecutive number. Relate the two objects in the description field of the cat card.
      Plastic dolls and other materials are the latest conservation and curatorial problems. Plastic is a petroleum byproduct or a chemical chain. Plastics in collections are starting to break down. (Barbi and the boyfiend are plastic — on so many levels). National Park Service has written advice re: plastics. Instead of giving the complex link, just google Conserv O Gram and you will be taken to the site. Plastic conserv O gram is number 8/4. While there look at the list of conver O grams. It is extensive and excellent. You will find great assistance at that site and can print off the documents for the price of paying your taxes.
      Ella Rayburn

    • #133456
      Tina Koeppe
      Member

      Please keep the boxes! In a museum exhibit, the original packaging helps tell part of a story. Fifty years from now, the logo, typography and materials used in the boxes will be very interesting to study. I’m currently working on an exhibit about a popular 1950s era doll and feel very lucky that we have some original boxes to include in the display.

    • #133455
      4T
      Participant

      OMG people! Collectors would have a fit if they thought you were even questioning keeping boxes! Sometimes the boxes are more valuable than what’s inside! Please don’t affix anything to a box! Any alterations to boxes decreases their value. Would suggest using a strip of very lightweight card stock, say 8-1/2″ X 2″ (depending on the depth of the box) and write all cataloguing/archiving info on the end of the strip. Hold the strip on the edge of the box and then place the lid on so that the ID part of the strip sticks outside of the box. Local train collectors tell me don’t stack boxes horizontally on top of each other. Better to store them vertically like books.

    • #133454
      Patricia Miller
      Participant

      Collectors aside, think about your responsibilities. You are so fortunate to have this documentation. It is an important part of the donation. And yes, it does matter about keeping the information about the packaging linked to the item. This is the same as with other objects that may come with boxes – hats, for instance. The boxes are also artifacts. And best not to store the items in the boxes, unless they have never been unpacked. Even then, think about what protects the item best. The packaging will not be made of archival materials. It does take up more room to store them separately, but that is one of the considerations about accepting or not accepting the gift. Can you take care of it properly?
      Pat Miller

    • #133453
      Peter E. Durbin
      Participant

      Our historical museum is in its infancy. We have obtained and just beginning to use a TcMax system for keeping informational track of storage , movement and by whom. Someone suggested using sequential numbers for items that belong together. As we begin the process of cataloging the newly acquired toy collection (5000 farm-related toys plus hundreds of boxes)naturally related items are not all stored together. How do others handle the problem of attaching tags containing the barcodes? How do others manage the sequential numbering of related items?

    • #133452

      I serve as a curatorial consultant to small museums, having been engaged in the museum profession for more than 20 years. One way you might proceed to associate dolls, boxes, stands, and doll clothing items that belong together (this works for farm animals and boxes, tractors and boxes, anything and its accessory items) is to assign a single object number to the primary object in the grouping (for me, that would be the doll, animal, tractor, etc.) and then use a decimal and alphabetical approach to associate all related or accessory items to the primary item. For example: If the accession of the doll, box, doll stand, and doll dress were the second accession made in 2012 (and the numbering system incorporates the accession year as the first unit) consider numbering the doll as 2012.2.1a (or 2012.2.1.a) and the doll box as 2012.2.1b, doll stand as 2012.2.1c etc.

      I’m less concerned with retaining the items’ market values as these objects have, as you say, been accessioned into a cultural heritage agency collection (museum, historical society.) Therefore unless one considers the collections fair game for generating revenue through sales (one hopes not!!) retaining market value seems far less important than retaining the primary documents’ association in the collections records, and by systematic and appropriate numbering of all items with primary relationships to one another. I suggest therefore that permanent or penciled object numbers be applied directly to all objects as soon following accession as is possible, in an unobtrusive and field-standard, best-practices manner. I’d be pleased to discuss this further with anyone – Patricia Keller patricia.keller at berrettstudio dot com

    • #133451

      About cataloging related items: I have always made a distinction between items that stand on their own as an artifact and items that do not because they are a part of a whole. For things that are artifacts on their own merit, such as utencils in a mess kit or an item in a box, I use numerals: Year.donor number.doll in box.clothing article (1998.34.6.4). Items that are part of a whole and do not make sense if exhibited on their own, such as a pot with a detachable lid or a coffee percolator with all its inner parts and cord, the number ends in a letter (1998.34.6.B for the lid). This is useful if you are counting the number of complete artifacts in a collection. This way you won’t inflate the number of whole artifacts by including all the many detachable pieces that come apart and have to be numbered as related.

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