Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Newspapers and Magazines

It’s not unusual to run across old newspapers and magazines while inventorying a family collection.  People save periodicals for many reasons.  Sometimes it’s obvious why the paper was saved, say in the instance of a moon landing or Kennedy assassination headline.  Sometimes it’s a full set of a favorite magazine.  But in other cases, the reason why the magazine or newspaper was saved may remain obscure, perhaps ultimately unknowable.

We have very few magazines in our family collection, but we do have some pamphlets and other ephemeral publications that we hope to preserve.  Preservation of a playbill from 1950 isn’t really too different from preservation of an old Life magazine.  They’re both leaves of glossy paper, saddle stitched together.

My main concern is with newspapers.  I’ve got piles of them.  From 1985 to 1988, I published a free tourist newspaper called The Wayfarer of Central Bucks County.  It was published biweekly and served the New Hope, Lahaska, Doylestown, and Newtown area of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Adding to the sentimental value of the paper, my father drew dozens of cartoons for it.  Now by its nature, newprint is cheap paper.  There’s no question that these newspapers are deteriorating.  But, if only for sentimental reasons, I also feel that it’s worth making an effort to save them.

A confession:  Fifteen years ago, my wife gave me a gift of acid-free paper and boxes to use to preserve the Wayfarers.  Much as I loved the gift, I never got around to actually doing the project.  Instead the papers have been languishing in a dark closet.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be discussing the preservation of periodicals with Rebecca Smyrl, Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts.  Like my wife, she disapproves of my neglect of the newspapers.  Sorry!  I’ll try to do better.

© 2011 Lee Price

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