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Author Topic:   storage boxes?

Posts: 350
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 12-31-2006 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are lots of recommendations available on storing individual pieces of silver, but I wonder if anyone has advice about what to do with multiple pieces, esp holloware -- what sorts of boxes are best for organizing.

My goal is to wrap some individual pieces in Pacific cloth and some in unbuffered archival tissue enclosed in Ziploc bags (maybe with 3M tarnish strips). While temporarily storing some pieces recently, I put a few unwrapped but polished pieces in individual Ziplocs and then put them into cardboard moving boxes. After a few months, the Ziplocked pieces that were in contact with the cardboard had a slight tarnish.

I'm now wondering about other kinds of boxes. Do I need to go for archival boxes (and if so, does buffered/unbuffered matter)? What about the Tupperware/Rubbermaid-style plastic boxes and bins with tops that snap tight? Would you worry about offgassing?

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June Martin
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Posts: 1326
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-01-2007 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are a number of threads in these forums about caring for silver. Here is an example of one ( using my new old silver). You can use the search feature to find more.

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Posts: 350
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 01-01-2007 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi June--
I'd searched earlier, but didn't find the answer to this question. But in the interest of not being a newbie pain smile, I just searched again and followed some links related to a question about storing ivory pieces.

The result (for anyone else who might want to know!): It seems that Tupperware/Rubbermaid airtight containers probably are OK. Found this

Preventing Silver Tarnish

The dark purple-blue-black silver tarnish that most of us are familiar with occurs when the outer layer of silver reacts with sulfur. This sulfur can come from a variety of sources, including: from one's hands, from storing or displaying the silver near objects or substances that give off sulfur, and from the air around us (air pollution).

Polishing works by physically removing the outer layer of tarnished silver. Over time, details on the piece can be polished away, or, in the case of silver plated objects, the silver may be entirely removed! Minimizing this damage is as simple as reducing the amount of polishing. Of course, you don't want to display a tarnished piece, or serve dinner with tarnished utensils! It is possible to handle and store your silver in such a way that tarnish formation is diminished:

1. Wear cotton gloves as much as possible when handling your silver. This will prevent the oils and acids from your hands from ending up on the object. Cotton gloves are very inexpensive, and can be purchased at photography supply stores and some drug stores.

2. Do not store or display your silver with other objects which contain sulfur. This includes keratin-based objects, such as horn and tortoiseshell. Keratin contains sulfur, which is released as the keratin ages, or begins to break down.

Latex, which is found in elastics and latex gloves, also contains enough sulfur to cause silver to tarnish. Remove all elastics from your silverware, and do not wear latex gloves to protect your hands when you do polish your silver. You can get sulfur-free nitrile gloves at a drug store (ask for the gloves you would wear if you had a latex allergy).

Glues and sealers used in the construction of storage or display cabinets may also contain sulfur. If you have a new storage cabinet, let it air out for at least a month before putting your silver in it. You can minimize the effect of any cabinet-based sulfurs by following the next step.

3. Store your silver in an airtight container with a small sachet of activated charcoal. By storing your silver in an airtight container (such as a Ziploc bag, Tupperware, or Rubber Maid), you put a barrier between the silver and the sulfur-containing air around us. Although an airtight container is not always practical, a sachet containing activated charcoal can still help reduce tarnish.

The activated charcoal serves as an "air scrubber", removing pollutants (including sulfur) from the air around the silver object. While much more effective in a sealed container, where no new air is introduced, a sachet can also be helpful in small display cases, silver chests, shipping boxes, drawers, and other small, enclosed areas.

Making an activated charcoal sachet is simple: Cut a square of unbleached cotton (the size depends on the size of the object, and the amount of air that needs to be cleaned; use your judgement). Fold the square over to form a rectangle, and stitch it so that only one of the short sides is open. Fill the sachet with activated charcoal, which is relatively inexpensive, and is available from pet stores (it is used in fish tank filters to keep the water clean). Stitch the final end of the sachet closed so that the charcoal does not escape. Voila!

Note that the charcoal can only absorb so much sulphur before it becomes ineffective. Replace your sachets at least once every year.

This article appeared in the January 1998 issue of New York City's Antiques News.

SAS (I'd earlier found his site, too) recommends 'archival boxes' -- tho' I'm still unclear on whether buffered or un-buffered are better.

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