Removing Mold from a Cotton Cap with Signatures

Dear Donia,
How do I remove mold from a cotton cap with signatures on it?

signed cap

Q. Dear Donia,

I have a cap, which I believe is cotton, that has autographs from several members of a band all over it. Unfortunately, the signatures are all in ballpoint pen, and some of the signatures have faded a little. I have kept it in the brown paper bag that I bought it in all those years ago. For many years it remained like new until I moved into an area of high humidity. The bag was in a cardboard box in a closet, and last year, to my horror,  I noticed it is now very moldy. I am devastated as it means so much to me, and many of the people whose signatures are on it are no longer alive. How can I remove the mold without deteriorating the signatures? Please help! Thank you, Ken

A. Dear Ken,

I am so sorry to hear mold has damaged your wonderful piece of memorabilia.

Mold is not easy to treat, especially if what you want to do is remove the staining. Anything you might try will also damage the ballpoint ink signatures. The best course of action is to have your cap looked at by a conservator. Luckily, there is a very good conservation firm in Minneapolis that treats a wide variety of materials. Midwest Art Conservation is a regional center with an excellent reputation. At the very least, they will be able to take a look at the hat and let you know what they could do. Good luck!