Box House Antiques

Learn How To Preserve Your Antiques

One of the most overlooked aspects of collecting is the ambient conditions of the rooms into which you place your newly-acquired antiques.

Often previous prevailing conditions will differ from yours. Naturally any antique will have survived for a considerable time, thus having stabilised – but not always.

Some will have been in old draughty houses exposed to varying levels of humidity. The risks today are with hermetically-sealed double glazing, coupled to highly efficient central heating systems.

It becomes ever more important to monitor humidity levels so as to protect your antiques (as well, perhaps, as your health). 

An atmosphere that is too dry can lead to warping, lifting of veneers, and drying out of old animal-skin glues causing weakened joints. These effects can be very difficult for any cabinet maker to put right, and sometimes impossible. 

Optimum ambient levels of humidity should be around 35% to 65%, with a room thermostat set at approx 68 degrees F to 75 degrees F, avoiding fluctuations beyond these levels. High humidity levels may well cause potential problems of mould and discolouration.

Investing in a humidity measuring device would be an excellent idea.
Avoid placing antiques near a heat source, and you might find a humidifier handy. Direct sunlight should be avoided – continuous exposure can cause fading (particularly of old vegetable-dyed fabrics such as needlework and silks)

Collections of miniatures, tapestries and samplers should be covered when exposed to daylight, to be viewed after the sun has gone down (and enjoyed perhaps with a glass of wine/ whiskey etc).

Largely, the same advice applies to paintings (either on wood or canvas).
Nb. No need to become neurotic about these risks, but remain vigilant.

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