Conserving yellowing paper
June 2, 2017 at 3:18 pm #135865
I’ve got a set of 10 toilet tissue rolls in their original paper wrapping from the 1960s that I just pulled from the sanitation supplies kit (a sturdy cardboard drum with a metal bottom) of which they are a part. The rolls were resting on the metal bottom, in contact with one another, the sides of the drum, and a plastic commode seat. As a result, they are very yellowed–but unevenly so. Please see attached photos.
The museum is preparing to send the whole kit out on loan, and then it will be going back into storage (properly packed this time in archival materials!). I’d appreciate any advice about how to best prepare the rolls and especially the outer paper wrappings for this and any ideas about how to halt the yellowing before it gets worse.
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June 5, 2017 at 5:26 pm #135873
Hello Lillian and thanks for contacting us!
I am working on compiling a detailed answer for you, but ran out of time today. I will respond later in the week. Thank you for your patience.
June 6, 2017 at 8:22 am #135874
Thank you so much, Erin! I really appreciate your help!
June 8, 2017 at 5:22 pm #135881
The main things to consider are proper storage materials and environmental conditions.
Since the actual supply drum is cardboard and metal I would store the items inside separately. The tissue rolls could be stored upright in an archival box that is acid-free, lignin-free, and has passed the Photographic Activity Test (P.A.T.). Laying them on their sides will cause the tissue to flatten there. You may need to add some archival board as spacers between the rolls and/or acid-free tissue to make sure the rolls don’t move around when the box is being handled. Storage like this will protect them from dust, light, and keep them from coming into contact with damaging materials like the cardboard supply drum.
Do you have any way to monitor the temperature and humidity in the storage space? There is no perfect answer about temperature and humidity, but the general recommendation is 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit and 45-55% relative humidity. That being said, materials like this should be kept as cools as possible and large fluctuations in temperature and humidity should be avoided.
Feel free to check out the Connecting to Collections Care Resources page for lots of great information on storage and environment.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
June 9, 2017 at 8:23 am #135882
Thank you for the advice! I appreciate the advice on the best way to store them; that helps me plan for when they get back from going out on loan. I do have them in a climate controlled environment that falls within those parameters and I’ll be making that a condition of the loan as well.
I think that the main issue with the entire kit is that it wasn’t separated at an earlier date, meaning that some of the materials negatively reacted with one another. I do plan on keeping the contents separate from this point on.
I’m also working on accessioning them – do you think that writing the object number on them in pencil will have any adverse effects?
June 9, 2017 at 10:17 am #135883
I would be hesitant to number them because the tissue material is going to be very fragile. It is thin and will be brittle from the degradation that has already occurred. If you do decide to number them use a very light touch and a soft pencil, but there is a risk that you could tear the tissue with any pressure applied.
June 9, 2017 at 3:07 pm #135884
Thank you. I’ll check them carefully for embrittlement before I make a final decision about whether or not to number them in pencil or by using another method. My concern is that I definitely need a way to tell them apart, so I need a marking system that attaches to the rolls themselves.
I really appreciate your advice!
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