Preserving family treasures, including the keepsakes in your family recipe cookbook or recipe scrapbook, can be a simple matter if you know what you’re doing.
Ever since the Library of Congress lamented the loss of deteriorating books during the late 1980s, we’ve been hearing more and more about conservation techniques to save family heirlooms and museum displays.
Experts tell us that there are 7 common enemies that haunt most keepsake preservation efforts. Here they are – beginning with the most harmful – and what to do about them!
Causes of deterioration in your family recipe treasures and how to avoid them
By far the most destructive element in preservation is literally indifferent family members and friends who may not appreciate the value of family keepsakes. Their lack of awareness can lead them to care improperly for fragile items or handle roughly. You can help to raise their consciousness by introducing them to libraries, historical organizations, or museums that help the community preserve its memories.
Unlike the well-made papers of a few hundred years ago, modern papers are often cheaply made and will only last about 75 years.
To ensure your family recipe keepsakes last longer, use acid free, lignin free, alkaline reserve (or buffered) paper, as well as folders, storage boxes and containers.
You can also protect crumbling items in good quality plastic sleeves. (One advantage of preserving family recipes with Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software is the ability to print them again any time without the worry of deterioration or excessive handling.)
Keep bugs and critters away from keepsakes by cleaning regularly in all the dark place. If necessary, fumigate with household insecticides – but make sure you don’t apply directly on the treasures you’re trying to preserve! Inspect for bugs periodically and take immediate action.
4. Light & Dust
Family keepsakes should be exposed to light sources no stronger than 150 watts at a distance of 4 feet. Filter the light, if possible, with window coverings, lampshades, or other UV inhibiting shades.
Choose incandescent bulbs over fluorescent bulbs, although low UV fluorescent bulbs are available. Keep dust off precious keepsakes with muslin dust covers.
5. Moisture & Mold
Take preventative measures by ensuring that your recipe treasures are stored in well ventilated areas to discourage the collection of moisture and spread of mold spores. Packets of Silica Gel can help to combat moisture. Don’t store items directly on the floor. Instead, elevate them to encourage air circulation.
6. Glue & Clips
Using any product containing adhesive on your family recipes will eventually leave a stain or deterioration, so it’s best to avoid pressure sensitive products (i.e. tape) when mounting or repairing paper pages. A starch paste is best, or try a neutral glue. Also, don’t use rubber bands or metal paper clips. If you do use clips choose, stainless steel or plastic.
Remove your family recipe treasures from places such as damp cellars or basements, and hot attics and, instead, store them in 70 degree F rooms with low humidity.
Use small bags of desiccant to control humidity inside drawers, closets and boxes. Use acid free storage containers for extra protection.
So now you know. Handle your family cookbook with loving care. Maybe you can try some plastic gloves, too!
Happy Heirloom Cookbooking,
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