Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Store Antiques & Collectibles

Are you an antiques lover or collector, but don’t have room in your home for all your treasures? Maybe you’ve downsized recently but can’t stand to part with items you’ve inherited or collected over the years. We feel you -- even our dealer-merchants have a hard time parting with the amazing items they bring in! After surveying our dealer-merchants and customers about where they store their antiques, collectibles and furniture, a majority of them said they store items in a basement or garage, while 11% said they opt for a storage unit. This map from Life Storage shows the average monthly cost of storage in the U.S. In Atlanta, a climate controlled unit can run you about $88 for a 5x10 space. While a basement or garage is the cheaper option, did you know that you could be harming precious items by keeping them open to the elements? Here are some simple rules and basic care consideration from owners Stacey and Jim Anderson, on how to properly store your antique furniture and collectible items.

Avoid Light

Light can harm most collectible, especially organic materials like wood, paper, and textiles. In addition to fading colors in art prints and fabrics alike, harsh light can dry out many materials and can speed up chemical reactions that occur naturally over time. All collections should be displayed away from direct sunlight. Even things that seem indestructible, like plastics, can melt when stored near a sunny window. In general, light levels should be fairly low for most collectibles so displaying them.

Control Humidity
When it comes to humidity, a good balance remains important for most antiques and collectibles. When there's not enough humidity, items like paintings, wood, and paper can shrink, crack and become very brittle. When humidity reaches excessive levels, rust can develop on metal items, mold can grow on a variety of objects, and insects are encouraged to breed.

Consider Temperatures
Fifty-six percent of people surveyed responded that they store their items in the basement or garage. These are good for short-term storage, but for long term storing, especially with organic materials like wood, paper, and cloth, you should avoid places that fluctuate in temperature. The ideal temperature for preservation is around 64 degrees. That's a little cold for most people, but keeping your home and storage areas as cool as you can afford while remaining comfortable is always suggested.

Change Climates Gradually
If you decide to change storage temperatures from hot to cold, or vice versa, do so gradually. Most antiques can be shocked when exposed to temperature extremes too quickly. For example, when exposed to extreme temperature changes the tiny cracks in the glaze of ceramics, called crazing, can appear more rapidly than they would have naturally. Glass items can crack as well when exposed to extreme temperature changes, along with glass components used in a number of different types of collectibles.

To Clean or Not to Clean
The more that fragile items are handled, the more likely they are to be broken. For this reason, they should be cleaned only as often as necessary. When you can't avoid cleaning, and sometimes you just can't when pieces have experienced years of neglect or improper storage, be as gentle as possible and use the proper tools. To assemble a basic collectibles cleaning kit, consider rounding up the following items:
  • Soft bristled brushes for dusting away loose particles 
  • A can of moisture-free compressed air for cleaning items too delicate to brush 
  • Cotton swabs 
  • Distilled water, which allows you to avoid chemicals and minerals found in tap water that can stain some materials 
  • Isopropyl alcohol comes in handy for cleaning ceramics and porcelain, as well as glazed finishes 

Avoid Excessive Handling
While it might be overkill to wear gloves while handling all your collections, it's not a bad idea to have a pair on hand for extremely fragile items. Family heirlooms, for instance, and other valuable items you want to preserve as long as possible, fall into this category.


Whether you’re a dealer-merchant or a customer, and choose to store your collectibles in a basement, workroom, storage unit or other space, please make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep your antiques in good condition! Not only does this ensure their value, but it also saves you the trouble of having to restore them down the road. Any questions? Ask our wonderful staff or visit the resources section of our website to get in touch with an expert. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see all the amazing items our dealer-merchants bring in daily!

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