Preserving a valuable book?
March 23, 2011 8:10 PM   Subscribe

A large hardcover collection of Little Nemo comic strips I bought cheaply turned out to be very valuable. What's the best way to preserve it so, if I decide to sell it, its still worth its full value? I live in a small apartment full of dust and bugs. I currently have it on a top bookshelf sitting in a plastic bag.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
Best answer: You should get an archival book box -- plastic is not a good idea. While you wait for your box, I'd put it out of the light onto a closet shelf.
posted by agatha_magatha at 8:23 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

if it is very valuable I'd think about storing it in a safe deposit box once you have your book box.
posted by edgeways at 9:03 PM on March 23, 2011

Best answer: If your bugs are German cockroaches (the little ones) - do NOT store the book in cardboard boxes or archive boxes. Cardboard boxes are like Oreo cookies for roaches, with the glue as the tasty icing. Roach droppings will permanently stain books.

Having worked in a university archive/rare books library, I believe that they use cardboard not because they know that plastic is bad, but because they don't know what plastic will do over centuries. They know that acid-free paper is stable for hundreds of years, and archives work on those time scales, so they act conservatively. (and they tend not to have roaches - who would devastate their archive boxes). But you're not working on a time scale of centuries - and plastic is perfectly stable for decades. In fact, I do know one archive that does use plastic slips to hold documents.

Given your situation of dust and bugs, I would store the book in a ziplock bag (sealed airtight - baby roaches are very small), if it will fit. Alternatively, I would use a plastic box with a very good seal, like Tupperware - your typical storage box will not seal well enough to keep bugs out.
posted by jb at 9:44 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I should correct myself: not all plastic is perfectly stable - I'm sure there are some that degrade, esp older ones. But ziplock has been good for me for several years. My husband keeps a couple of 17th century books in ziplock. (Not rare ones - even the 17th cen had the equivalent of Dan Browns). And harder plastics like tupperware will last decades.
posted by jb at 9:48 PM on March 23, 2011

One consideration is the acid content of the book itself. If it is printed on good paper, then no worries. If it is on newsprint or other cheaper paper, then consider having the book de-acidified. The Library of Congress does this a lot. they use some newer gaseous method.
posted by noonknight at 12:12 AM on March 24, 2011

Is this "So Many Splendid Sundays"? I ended up selling my copy for twice what I bought it for. I do miss it though.
posted by pinside at 10:46 PM on March 24, 2011

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