The Care and Preservation of Antiquities
Antiquities by definition have been around much longer than those of us who are currently privileged to own them. In fact many antiquities available on eBay today are 2000 plus years old. This however does not mean that they are not subject to various types of damage. They can in fact be quite fragile. Here we provide some basic guidelines for the care of antiquities and other ancient art objects, in particular, ancient pottery, oil lamps and bronze vessels. We all have a responsibility to preserve these precious pieces of human history, for future generations. With proper care they should be around far into the future still providing wonder, joy, enlightenment and knowledge of our pats to those who come after us.
Most antiquities, which have survived to the present day, have done so in fairly benevolent environments. The basic rule for care is to provide a stable and protected environment against factors, which may cause damage, wear or oxidisation. The major factors that can lead to damage are temperature changes, humidity changes, strong light - especially direct sunlight, chemical exposure and physical stress.
Storage: For most situations a glass or Perspex (plexiglass) enclosed cabinet, out of direct sunlight, will provide adequate protection and minimise sudden changes in temperature and humidity. Cabinet lights should not be left on for extended periods, as this will increase the temperature and decrease the humidity. Remember the best environment is a stable one, with a minimum of fluctuations. We also cabinets be kept locked and out of reach of curious visitors and children. If object must be kept in the open, make sure they are where children and pets cannot accidentally damage them.
Handling: Always hold or carry an antiquity with both hands, one hand under the object, supporting its weight, the other firmly gripping the body of the piece for stability. Never pick up an object by the handle or rim. Examine fragile objects low over cushioned surfaces.
Cleaning: For household dust, the best strategy is not to let it accumulate in the first place (easily said). A display cabinet will keep dust and dirt to a minimum. If you need to dust, please use a feather duster, whilst supporting the object. Be gentle and do not lift the object with one hand while dusting with the other. Never use a vacuum cleaner or dusting cloth, these are bound to damage the object. Examine the object for cracks, repairs, fragile surfaces or other weaknesses before cleaning, and then handle in a way that minimises stress on the weakness.
Protection from Exposure to Chemicals: The level of damaging chemical fumes in the air in the typical home can be significant. Storage and display cases may provide some protection but their construction may also trap some fumes inside the case. Fly spray, air deodorants, cleaning fluids and the like contain many chemicals that can cause damage to ancient pottery and bronze. Typically, it is the release of chlorine and ammonia, that are of most concern. So read the label before using cleaners and the like in the vicinity of your antiquities. A general, though not infallible, rule is the stronger it smells, the more likelihood of damage. Minimise the exposure of antiquities to damaging chemicals by providing good ventilation when using these products. Open windows and switch on exhaust fans; this is also a good idea for your families health.
So in conclusion, please don't be afraid to display and show off, your precious and interesting antiquities. Just be mindful of the simple rules for preservation of antiquities and ancient art and your family and future generations will marvel at your amazing ancient objects and art.
If I can be of any assistance, please don't hesitate to email me, and of course we hope you browse our eBay store for a wonderful range of antiquities and artifacts from the Holy Land (Jerusalem, Judea). We specialise in Ancient Greek, Roman, Judean, Biblical and Byzantine antiquities and ancient coins.
The Care and Preservation of Antiquities & Artifacts
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15 December 2005
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