The care and keeping of vintage books

Whether you’re planning on fully restoring your antique books to their former glory, or just hanging on to them for future inspection, they need to be given the proper care in this ripe old age. Here are the measures you should consider to ensure that your books are still around when you’re an antique, too.

Location – Keep your collectibles in a spot that’s safe from direct sunlight. You can also buy UV resistant book covers, for added fade protection. Be aware of temperature and humidity, too. Make sure your books are clear from air vents or other sources of heat. Stay away from potential water sources, like pipes, AC ducts or windows, anything that could lead to condensation. The ideal storage temperature for book longevity is 60 to 66 degrees Farenheit; that information is probably unnecessary for most of us, but if you’re going all the way, go all the way.

Shelving – Store your vintage books upright on shelves like any other books. Don’t remove your antique books (or any books, for that matter) by pulling them by the top of the spine. Pinch the spine on both sides to take books off the shelf as kindly as possible.

Keep them near books of the same size, to keep the spines from warping, and make sure that they aren’t packed too tight. You don’t want to accidentally damage a book by struggling to pull it off the shelf. Keeping more space between the books can also provide more air flow and keep your books better off for preventing mold and mildew.

If you keep your books on wooden shelves, only used sealed wood, to prevent any acid in the wood from leading into your books.

Dust – Dust your books regularly to keep them mold, mildew or mites. I use Chinese hake brushes to dust mine; they’re gentle and safe, and easy for me to identify among my various art and building supplies as my “book brushes.” Storing your books in a seal-able cabinet is another great way to cut down on potentially dangerous dust.

Covers –  Purchase books covers for all of your hardbacks, and sleeves for any paperbacks.

Handling – Handle your books wearing 100% cotton gloves, to avoid oils and dirt from your hands from rubbing off onto the pages.

AbeBooks is a great source for learning more about your vintage books. I keep my antique books on the same shelf as the rest of my library, but on their own shelf. I’ve begun restoring the the pieces I have, and tutorials are on the way. Stay tuned!

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