If you’re going to store large paper prints archivally they should be stored flat unless they already came rolled or folded. Unrolling them is always a good option, especially if you are storing them in a large Poly Sleeve. For lay flat prints, if you have access to Flat File Cabinet historically used for large drafting prints, they are a wonderful storage choice. If you don’t, we have a selection of large acid-free storage boxes that will work perfectly. The largest size we stock is 31 x 41” (O.D.)
Drop-Front – Archival
As maps, prints, and posters come in many different sizes, the poly sleeves you choose may not be an exact fit. Thats perfectly ok. In most cases, they are better protected in loose fitting sleeves then unprotected in a box or drawer. Protecting your prints in a sleeve not only prevents bent corners and scuffs but prevents fingerprints as well. This is especially important for preserving older pieces as the oils can leave stains that are very difficult to remove, and in some cases may devalue the print.
Here at Bags Unlimited in Rochester NY we’ve manufactured archival sleeves for over 40 years, and also stock many different types of archival and non archival sleeves for protecting your prints. We make our sleeves from three different types of material. Each material has significant properties that should be considered before you choose the correct one for your needs. Our Polyethylene, Polypropylene and Polyester materials have been tested by an independent lab for their acid-free and “safe for long term storage” properties. All these materials are inert, which means there is nothing in them that can transfer to the stored item and cause damage to it.
1) Polyethylene Sleeves – Our 100% pure-virgin Polyethylene is a soft, clear film that has some stretch to it. We stock three thicknesses of polyethylene sleeves for posters – 2mil, 3mil and 4mil. 2mil is the thinnest and highest in clarity. Polyethylene material is an excellent choice for long-term storage as it can store at higher temperatures, a good material for chemical resistance and has a very low moisture absorption rate. This material is perfect for collections that require medium to long term storage.
2) Polypropylene Sleeves – These 1.5 mil sleeves are super high clarity. The material is crisp with a high sheen. We use bi-oriented polypropylene which means that when the material is made, it is stretched in both directions, so that over time, it will not pucker (decreasing the clarity) as some polypropylene sleeves do. It’s super-high clarity and reasonable cost makes it an excellent choice for retailers who want inexpensive protection for their products. Something that not only protect from fingerprints, but allows the product to be seen and handled with ease.
3) Polyester (Mylar) – is the only material approved by The Library of Congress for indefinite storage of paper products and is considered to be the ultimate material for archival storage. It is crystal-clear, semi-rigid, and in accelerated aging tests, shows no breakdown of the material for over one thousand years. We use DuPont inert Melinex® or a suitable equivalent. Storing in polyester is the equivalent of using museum-level preservation standards. Our product is known as ‘Archival Armor’ and is designed and manufactured with the discerning collector in mind. Museums, Art Collectors, and Libraries which house and store irreplaceable pieces are prime candidates for using Mylar. The more valuable your collection is, the more you should be using ‘Archival Armor’. This even includes sentimental value.
Our polyester ‘L’ Sleeves are open on two adjacent sides. This design is a perfect if you are removing your map/print frequently. They are made from 4 mil material. Here is the link on our website.
Mylar (Polyester) Sleeves
Our standard polyester sleeves come in 2 or 4 mil. Some sizes are open on one long side for easy insertion and removal of larger maps (prints).
Mylar (Polyester) Sleeves
If your print is extremely large or oddly shaped, you can use our polyester rolls to make whatever size sleeve you need to protect your item. It is available in 2, 3 and 4 mil. The larger your map is, the thicker the material should be.
Measure your map and cut the size polyester you need (one sheet for the front and one for the back), adding a minimum of two inches to both the length and width of the polyester. The extra inches are where you will apply your double sided tape. Apply the tape close to the edge of one polyester sheet on all four edges. Do not remove the tape liner at this time. Place your map in the center of the polyester sheet to which you have applied the tape. Be sure the map is centered and that it is smooth and flat. Remove the tape liner and lay your second sheet of polyester over the first one. It is good to use a burnishing tool at this point to run it over the tape on all sides creating a secure tape bond. We have a kit available at a very reasonable price that includes a tape applicator, adhesive transfer tape and a roll of 4mil polyester.
We hope this helps your decision on how to best protect those large prints.