Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WRAPPING BREAKABLE ANTIQUES

Last week was the 50th birthday of bubble wrap, one of the best of all wraps for breakable antiques. Best, we think, are unused disposable diapers or crumpled newspapers.

29 comments:

Andy said...

No, no, no, no, No! Leaving aside the possible "Ick" factor of wrapping valuables in unused disposable diapers, I see two problems with either diaper wrapping or crumpled newspaper:

1) Both can catch and hold moisture, leading to various unpleasant results over time.

2) Crushed newspaper in particular makes for terrible padding, as it does not rebound after crushing. Given enough time and handling, an object surrounded by only crushed newspaper for padding will eventually press out an unsupported space in which it can roll around, eventually doing itself harm over the long term.

Anything valuable enough to wrap in padding is valuable enough to wrap properly. One or more layers of bubble wrap, surrounded (if required) by styrofoam popcorn or peanuts to fill larger volume within the box as needed, will provide secure, cushioned support for either shipping or long-term storage.

Marty said...

I found out the hard way that you should not wrap anything in newspaper. The ink rubs off onto the antique and sometimes cannot be removed. Use bubble wrap!

Anonymous said...

beware of bubble wrap as it off-gases and can lead to problems with fragile ceramics surfaces, ie tin-glazed ceramics and glass surfaces. Acid-free bubble wraps are available and should be used if storage is intended for longer than six months.

Sylvie Nault said...

ECOLOGICAL VERSION OF BUBBLE WRAP...

I am an Ebay seller, Vintage-by-Jojo, and I sell mostly vintage glass that travel from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to anywhere in the US. I found a great way of cutting my expenses and helping the planet by recycling solar plastic covers for swimming pools. These huge blue plastic covers have bubbles just like bubble wrap but if you are lucky you can get them a 32 feet long X 16 feet long cover for for a few $ instead of paying the outrageous price at Office Depot. You do, of course, need to cut it in strips of 2 feet X 3 feet with a very sharp pair of scissors but still, it's worth it. Then you clean it once it cut. I have experimented with 2 solutions and found the best to be the washing machine, making sure to use warm water and at least 1 cup of Javex to desinfect. The other solution is a bathtub soak with lots of soap and javex, followed by a rinse with the telephone shower head. The third could be the dishawsher, still with Javex, but only on the top basket. Cheers, Sylvie, aka Charlo1910 on Ebay.

Lucy said...

Slotted boxes from a whiskey or wine store are the answer to protecting breakable antiques.

The best packaging for a sterling silver coffee and tea set is a 4 slot wine box with cloth around the hollow pieces. No dings or dents.

Smaller breakables go into the boxes with more slots (8/12/16), and you can double or triple deck them with crumpled paper or newspaper between small items. The little guys do not get lost and they do not break.

Terry, I bought my first Kovels about 1970. Thanks.

Donna said...

Ditto to what Marty said about newprint. I, too, suffered the ill effects of the ink leaching into the glaze permamently. If you must use newpaper, wrap the item in either plastic or butcher paper first so it does not come in direct contact with the newspaper ink.

Anonymous said...

I ship a lot of collectibles and I can tell you that bubblewrap is the ONLY safe way to get them to their destination. I recently shipped 6 antique glass lustre lamps clear across the US with nary a crack. Not so for the resin item I packed in newspaper. Can you say pieces? Paper just doesn't absorb the shock and becomes compressed. Another alternative is foam rubber. Can be expensive but it works very well.

Angw2 said...

Another potential problem with newspaper or the newsprint used by movers, it is acidic and the acid can damage metal parts. It also gets darker with age, and the color does transfer to certain permeable objects.
Don't use ordinary foam sheets either as some destabilize and can stick to painted surfaces, loosening the paint. Some peanuts do the same. So far, bubble wrap seems the best option.
Walter

Kat said...

I agree with Marty about the ink residue. I used to work at a charity resale shop where we would get porcelain pieces that had been wrapped in newspaper for years. It was virtually impossible to get rid of the ink without damaging some of the items, especially cold-painted things.

Joni said...

no to newspapers, there is acid in the ink and that can harm fine glassware. And no to bubble wrap, I have had 2 instances where the image of the round bubbles stayed on ceramics and it could not be removed. Use tissue paper, then the bubble wrap.

Anonymous said...

YIKES!
NO NEWSPAPER!
NO DIAPERS!
For all the reasons already mentioned.

Bubble Wrap, Peanuts; that's the way to go!

Joni said...

No to both !!
1) newspaper ink has acid in it and can damage your fine glassware.

2) I have found that if the bubbles are in contact with a ceramic surface, they will leave littel spots that cannot be removed.

3) Best to wrap in tissue (acid free if you can find it) and then in bubble wrap.

Gary said...

I've shipped thousands of items over the past 15 years of selling online. I've shipped fragile items such as Boehm Porcelain Flowers and Birds and heavy objects such as Iron Anvils etc. Each item requires it's own approach to packing but overall:
1. Protect the item from moisture - wrap it or put it in a plastic bag. You can use bubble wrap if available to pad it within the bag if necassary.

2. Use newspaper...it's not perfect but it's the most cost effective and sure method available to those who can't afford to buy expensive foam peanuts.

3. Pack the newspaper around the item tight don't be chincy!

4. Most important pack the box you just put the item into another larger box. Put newspaper around the entire inner box and if the item shifts due to paper compaction the inner box will hold it safe against bumping into the side of the box and breaking on some other mail when hoisted by uncaring or hurried postal employees.

Anonymous said...

Well to start with I am glad you said "unused diaper" (and I laughed when I saw that.) I have moved around 20 times since being married and have moved several fragile family antiques. My solution has been to wrap the glassware in the linens such as the terry cloth towels that I needed to take anyway then wrapped that with bubble wrap or foam wrap. I have had no problems with breakage or cracking.

Anonymous said...

Newspaper is a definite no-no. Will not survive shipping 3/4's of the time and on some items will leave marks & also heavier to ship. Disposable diapers or chucks are Ok to wrap for storage or carting from show to show for yourself but is an unprofessional to pack or send items you are selling.

Jonathan said...

DON'T USE NEWSPAPER! I sell and mail glass, porcelain and china for a living. Recycling centers have free bubble wrap and packing peanuts. I have not had an item broken yet.
NEVER use newspaper, regardless of how tight you wad it, recycling center has clean, safe wrapping materials at no charge to you. Go with that for safe arrival. I've shipped over 4000 items, no breaks. Ponder.

Anonymous said...

Shrink wrap works well with breakables. I then wrap once with bubble wrap place in box with crumpled newspaper on bottom and sides.Items do not get impressions from bubbles or stains from newspaper.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to hear you recommend newspaper for wrapping antiques! The ink can come off and on some surfaces is almost impossible to get off without ruining it!

Teddi said...

No on the Newspaper for all the above. But also I was told by a reputable dealer that for long term storage newspaper dries out glassware making it more fragile.

Sandie said...

Ditto on not using newspapers because of the ink coming off. The same thong only worse for colored newspapaer magazines. However, you can buy newsprint paper very cheap.

Carol Hearn said...

No one mentioned that there are commercially made padding sheets that look like disposable diapers but without any perfume and designed so that the white part does not disintegrate.

These are expensive and offer excellent protection for breakables and for jewelry stored on display fingers or pads. The cost would be prohibitive for packing ordinary collectibles to ship, but affordable to store your own things.

We used them for years when we did antique shows. We've had some of them for well over 20 years and they're still in service.

Anonymous said...

What about regular popcorn? Unbuttered, of coarse !!! Gay

Anonymous said...

You can often get leftover end rolls of blank newspaper from a local newspaper printing plant for free. There's no ink on it to damage items. We've used it for wrapping items to store for years with no apparent problems.
The only downside to the rolls is that they are heavy because of the heavy inner roller.

Angw2 said...

Carol Hearn.
Can you be more specific about the commercial padding sheets? Brands? Available where, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max? Sounds interesting!
Thanks,
Walter

Anonymous said...

What about using plastic grocery bags to store items? Is there any danger in doing this for long-term storage? Especially for metal (silver, silverplate, brass, etc.). I keep the collectibles not on display in plastic tubs. I pack the collectibles within "balled up" plastic grocery bags. The bags provide good cushion, but I'm worried that the bags might be acidic or reactive with metal or glass. Any chemists out there who could answer this?

Cathy said...

I grew up in an Antique shop. I always loved glassware of all kinds. I am constantly changing the look of my cupboards, rotating everything about 6 times a year. I am not a fan of paper or syrofoam plates, but lets face it they are sometimes a nesessity. I use them inbetween plates and bowls. Better than anything, other than Bounty papertowels, that I have tried yet. My collectibles are like friends to me and I certainly would not wrap a friend in newspaper to protect them. Also we have family members in the fire department and they told us you would be surprised how many fires start in the attic on a hot summer day from old newspaper.
Chatty Cathy 55

Angw2 said...

As to the grocery bags, the ink used for the printing MAY come off. And if the bags are eco-friendly, i.e., bidegradable, they are unfit for storage. I used some large trash bags to store things in my attic, and, well, it was like not having any protection. The bags did what they were designed to do, they disintegrated.
Walter

Anonymous said...

I am also an ebay seller and I have found a great source for bubble wrap. Check with your local funiture stores. One near me used to have to pay to take his very large pieces to the local dump. I now haul it off. It's clean but, is a heavier (blue) grade of material. I cut into strips and use as much as I need to cushion and wrap and pack items. I have NO breakage now and get complments on my professional packaging.
Lea Billingslely
Countryside Auction (a live auction House)
Valley, AL

Anonymous said...

I bought some Pfaltzgraff to sell on ebay and it got next to a newspaper in my shuffling things around. I have tried everything I can think of to get the ink off and years later the it is still there. A NOTE about the newer ink used in newspapers: it is soy- based and smudges very easily, even just reading it, it gets all over your hands now. It is cheaper than what they used before, as many newspaper companies are going under.