Preservation and Restoration

One of the reasons why we collect fruit jar rings is because the boxes they come in are colorful and make a pleasing display.  Of course, colors fade or darken over time, so we must do our part to make sure these items are just as bright and attractive for the next generation of collectors as they are for us.

You may have already established a routine for the preservation of the boxes in your collection, but just in case you’re curious about what other people do, here’s my list of steps to take.

  1. Make sure sunlight never touches the boxes in your display.  Nothing fades color faster than sunshine.
  2. Keep your boxes in a cool dry place, heat and humidity can wreak havoc on the condition of the paper.
  3. To keep dirt and oils from handling from damaging your boxes, wrap them in a clear plastic covering.  I use an acid-free plastic to ensure the chemicals in the plastic do not affect the color or condition of the box, but I’ve seen Saran Wrap used and it seems to work just fine – at least on the short term.

Now you need a routine for restoration.  What do you do when you find a really rare box, but it’s in pieces?  Or if it’s crumpled beyond recognition?

  1. Sometimes all you need is a little strip of tape on the inside of the box to reattach a flap or close up a corner tear.  Simple, but when it gets a little more complicated.
  2. With a few exceptions, severely creased or crumpled boxes can generally be soaked – that’s right – in water.  Once thoroughly wet, remove and place between several layers of blotter paper and put a heavy book on top.  Give it several days to dry completely, then refold where the creases belong.  Voila!  Perfection once again.  Just a word of caution, if you stick the box in water and see any signs of ink or color bleed, remove it immediately.
  3. Less severe creasing can be helped with a spray bottle and a warm iron.  Just open up the box and lay flat on the ironing board, then spray lightly and iron until dry.  Refold, and admire your handiwork.
  4. If there are large portions of the box missing you can make a “backer”.  That is, you cut out a pattern of a complete box. I like to use a manila file folder, it gives a firm backing without being too thick.  Glue on the parts of the box you have, then fold in the appropriate places to form the complete box.  Seriously, there are several one-of-a-kind incomplete boxes in my collection but you would never guess it looking at my display.  Are you going to turn down a Bunny Brand just because the box isn’t all there?

Do you have anything to add?  Please feel free to share your own techniques.


One thought on “Preservation and Restoration

  1. Love your website. Thanks for sharing your collection.

    When repairing paper, you should try to use acid-free archival products. Otherwise, the acid can turn your paper and boxes brown. Use book repair tape instead of scotch tape, and acid free cardstock to back your boxes. Also, always choose acid-free plastic sleeves.

    Search ”acid free” at uline.com or amazon.com for supplies.

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