Protecting Old Newspapers
By Lori Ferber
One of the toughest challenges is the preservation of old newspapers. That’s because time, humidity and sunlight are the arch enemy of newspapers. Not convinced? Try this simple experiment. Leave a copy of your local newspaper outside in the sunlight for just an hour. It won’t take much longer than that for the newspaper to show major yellowing and damage.
Some newspapers will deteriorate faster than others. For instance, oddly enough newspapers made before the late 1800’s often hold up better than more current newspapers. The reason is simple, prior to that date newspapers were often produced on paper that contained rag linen content rather than traditional newsprint since they contained virtually no acid, chemicals or wood pulp. The most common result of exposing newspapers to sunlight, moisture or extreme change sin temperate is that they turn yellow, brown or brittle. In our opinion here is no perfect way to stop the deterioration of newspapers. Like the aging of humans, time will take its toll regardless. However, with proper techniques you can slow the aging process – at least in newspapers!
The best way to preserve newspapers is to store them in a flat open position. The reason for this is that newspapers tend to experience the most deterioration around the folds in the paper. The folds often become brittle and yellowed with age. This is common, and expected over time, but storing the paper flat reduces the pressure on the folds thus cutting down on the level of deterioration you would find in the folds. Constantly unfolding and closing a newspaper to view it, also harms the newspaper so this is yet another reason for storing them flat.
If you use a plastic sleeve to preserve your newspapers, be sure to purchase one that is large enough to hold the newspaper comfortably. Damage often occurs when trying to squeeze newspapers into small sleeves. Also, as we mentioned earlier, never laminate the front page of a newspaper – that immediately and drastically reduces the value of the newspaper to collectors.
As experienced and knowledgeable dealers in political memorabilia, Lori and Steve Ferber have been providing helping collectors acquire and preserve unique and intersting political memorabilia items for over 35 years. They operate a popular collectibles website at www.loriferber.com.