History Series Part 9- Caring for your valuable Corvette Documentation and Paperwork

History Series Part 9- Caring for your valuable Corvette Documentation and Paperwork

Caring for your valuable Corvette documentation and paperwork

We have talked about the importance of saving and preserving your Corvette’s history. This article will discuss how to handle your Corvette documentation. Hopefully, the financial return of providing this provenance to a future purchaser of your Corvette has motivated you to action. If you do not yet have a box full of photos and receipts relating to your Corvette, you might want to re-read the earlier blogs, and we’ll meet back here.

Click here to read the first article in the series 

Problems with your Corvette documentation

If you are lucky enough or smart enough to have saved decades-old paperwork for your Corvette, you have a new problem. Paper does not age well and becomes more delicate and brittle the older it gets. The sun is very damaging to paper- namely the inks used in print. Objects that have spent long periods in bright sunlight become “sun-faded.” The problem is so universal that we have an entire discipline devoted to solving it. The wood-based paper became standard in the late nineteenth century. It contains a substance called lignin that breaks down into acids. These acids cause the paper itself to disintegrate. You know what this looks like – yellowing and crumbling.

Your paperwork and documentation is fragile 

Many of the items that you have gathered will likely fall into the category of “documents at special risk.” Modern “wood-based” paper production makes our task more difficult.

  • Newspaper clippings
  • Photographs
  • Folded and/or rolled documents
  • Documents with fading ink
  • High-acid papers like telegrams, scrapbook and photo album pages

Eliminate the hazards to your documents

  • Improper handling- handling items roughly or allowing contact with skin’s dirt and oils
  • High levels and also frequent exposure to sunlight
  • Using harmful fasteners or adhesives
  • Fluctuating and also extreme humidity levels
  • Fluctuating and also extreme temperatures
  • LAMINATION!
  • Accidents like water and fire
  • Storage with documents containing high acid levels like newspaper
  • Storage in folded, creased or rolled condition
  • Mold, mildew, insects, and rodents
  • Poor choices of framing, packaging or storing

Handling your Corvette documentation

Handle your items as little as possible. Careful copying of the more fragile items could be a good idea. It sounds silly, but you should wear a pair of white cotton gloves whenever you handle the items. The dirt and oils on your skin (to say nothing of lotions, etc.) can be damaging. The white gloves are your best choice as they are less liable to have any chemical dyes. Photography supply stores are a good choice for cheap white cotton gloves. You will want to prepare a special area to access the fragile documents. Start with a large safe, flat and clean surface. Ensure that there is no liquid in the area that can spill and nothing that the items can catch on.  A good rule of thumb is that the open space should be at least twice as large as the items, themselves.

More rules to follow

  • NEVER laminate, but consider encapsulating frequently accessed items
  • Avoid using any fasteners or adhesives
  • NEVER eat, drink or smoke anywhere near the documents
  • Lift the documents one at a time
  • Do not set anything on the Corvette paperwork
  • Do not lift or carry a fragile document unless it has stiff support underneath

As always- post any questions, and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction!

The next blog article will discuss the importance of the document conservator.

Link to the first article in the series

Click here to read the next article in the series.

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