Preservation of Your Precious Postcards or Photos

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Collecting vintage postcards and photos creates some special concerns regarding their preservation. 
If you like to keep antique albums complete as they were originally assembled you will have even more problems.  The real disadvantage is that most early albums were made of inferior paper that leaves a residue on the item corners.  If a top quality album was used, this paper didn't move or breathe leaving heavy indents on the postcards or photos called album marks.  Items should really be removed from these old albums.
The major enemies of postcards or photos are fire, water (or humidity), dirt, sunlight, mould, and insect activity.  If you are investing large sums of money in postcards or photos for your collection, fireproof file cabinets or a safe is advisable.
Separate each item with acid-free paper or glassine to prevent ink transfer.  Stand cards on edge if possible as stacking causes damage to embossing and mechanisms.
Keep humidity between 50 and 65% - low humidity causes paper to become brittle and micro-organisms grow in high humidity.  Temperature should be kept below 25°C as excess heat causes faster chemical deterioration.
Sunlight is a great destroyer of paper.  If you wish to display your framed collection, do not place items in direct sunlight. Instead, display them on interior walls away from natural light.  When getting your items framed, request museum mounting.  If the framer doesn't know what you are talking about, find another one!
Nothing should ever be done to paper that cannot be easily undone.  Any annotations should be made in pencil.  If the item needs to be secured to album pages use only stamp hinges, photo corners with clear Mylar tops or paper tape.  Never fix any kind of tape to the front of your items.
If you use plastic sleeves or album pages, use only sleeves or pages of archival quality.  Ordinary PVC storage systems will cause chemical damage to antique paper if left for long periods of time.  In addition, items that are not kept in a humidity-controlled environment risk water damage from condensation forming inside of the sleeves.
But, before you panic about the storage of your vintage items, remember they have survived nearly 100 years in old deteriorating postcard albums and they probably will survive many more years with just a reasonable amount of care.  However, only archival protection will preserve them indefinitely.
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