How to protect your rare book collection

You may be planning on, or already find yourself, investing significant money into a book collection.

It only takes a cursory glance at my Books & Manuscripts News section to known that there is a lot of money in rare books.

So, naturally, your next step is to protect your investment.

Erik Bosee's family has run a Dallas-based antiquarian book dealership which has operated for 60 years. In this video, he offers some advice on how to keep your rare books in pristine condition.

Firstly, lighting is an important issue

Sunlight, flourescent light and a lot of incandescent lights can play havoc with rare books, bleaching out some of the pigments on the page, in the bindings or on the dust jackets. So, carefully consider how much light you have in your library or place or storage.

Make sure you buy a decent dust jacket protector

These have become very popular among book collectors and dealers, and have considerably boosted the value of certain rare books at auction. The plastic and paper surrounding the dust jacket can do a great job of keeping the jacket from chipping.

But, what a lot of dealers don't tell you - and often don't know themselves - is that most of these jacket covers are not made of archival plastic or archival paper.

In other words, they will keep your books in the short term.

But, eventually, issues like paper discolouration will become an issue, as well as the affects of impacts on the dust jacket itself.

Fortunately, in the internet age, archival plastics are easy to come by.

Have a dig around, follow recommendations and you'll find a covering that can prevent anything from scratching your books' surfaces, with or without a dust jacket.

Look after your leather bindings

It is important to prevent the leather from getting too dry, and potentially cracking.

There are creams available made specifically for books, on which antiquarian book dealers both local and on the internet should be able to advise you. 

Otherwise, neatsford oil or other kinds of leather creams (which don't contain dye!) can do the job.

These can be applied by hand to the leather. Leave the oil to soak, then rub it off with a clean cloth.

For more fragile book items, like paperbacks or paper-based manuscripts, it is again wise to store them in archival plastic.

Paul Fraser. 

PS. Enjoyed this article? Sign up to my free weekly newsletter for all the latest on collecting books and manuscripts. 

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