Preserving Vintage Paint Labels

Dear Donia,
How do I preserve old paint can labels and receipts?

Vintage paint label

Q. Dear Donia,

My family has owned and operated a paint company since 1846, and we have a bunch of vintage paint labels and receipts and other documents we have saved throughout the last 170 years. We are looking for a way to be able to display this company history with our customers while still protecting it as best we can. Currently we have everything in a page protector in a three-ring binder, but I feel there must be a better way. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, George

A. Dear George,

I would recommend a two-step process to best preserve your great collection of paint labels and receipts. Storing them in clear page protectors are good for the short-term but not so much for the long-term.

First, I would recommend getting high-quality scans of the labels. This way you have copies you can display throughout the store and not worry about damaging the originals. You can also scan the receipts and display as well.

After scanning, the originals should be stored in acid-free, lignin-free, buffered folders to protect the paper. These folders can then be labeled and stored in a flip-top document box to provide further protection from light, dust, and physical damage. If the folders don't fill the box, you will want a spacer so the folders don't slump. If the paper remains that way for too long, it will remember the curve and be difficult to get flat again.

This may seem like a lot of work but it will be the best for the labels and receipts for the long term. 

Please feel free to ask me any more questions you may have.