Need suggestions on keeping the damage from getting worse...

I need some advice with a damaged autograph going forward.

tl;dr version - can I safely use any sleeve with this autograph?

Verbose: I have an autograph from radio announcer Ken Roberts ("The Shadow," "Quick as a Flash," others; father of Broadway and film actor Tony Roberts). Was going through the photos and discovered to my horror the ink started to bleed/transfer in the sleeve. I thought I had done this correctly (this autograph is MANY years old, and is only occasionally viewed), but in researching the sleeve ("Joshua Meier"), it appears they are vinyl. Of course I immediately ordered a box of UltraPro poly to replace all of them, but in a spot-check of these old photo/autographs, none of the others seem to be currently injured.

Quite some years ago, I scanned this photograph and the inscription, other than a tiny spot I assumed to be pen issues, was fine. I have included that scan along with a hastily-taken cell phone photo of the current damage.

Obviously, I can do nothing about the damage. But I would appreciate advice on whether or not I can safely house this photo in a poly sleeve...if the problem is the ink and not the vinyl, is it possible it will continue to bleed/transfer? And if I shouldn't house in a sleeve, then what can I do to protect it long-term? I obviously don't want things to get worse...

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Tags: autograph, damage, radio

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This is polyvinyl chloride/plasticizer damage? PVC "cancer"? Not sure - others will have advice. I used to see this with coins if so.

All "plastic" sleeves will eventually degrade, and as they do, they emit harmful chemicals, oils, etc. This includes polypropylene and polyethylene, which are commonly used to make binder sleeves. They may be "acid free" at the time of manufacture, but not so as they break down over time.

Only polyester-based sleeves are truly inert, that is archival, because they do not break down over time. They are commonly known as Mylar or Melinex.

So, this was a long-winded way of advising you to use a Mylar sleeve if you want assurance the sleeve will not interact chemically with the item inside of it.

Huh. Almost every page I read was pushing the polypropylene sleeves, generally pointing to UltraPro's offering. I'd really like to do this all right this time so I don't have things blowing up another ten years from now; is there a consensus within the hobby of which brand or vendor is preferred?

Generally, Ultra Pro sleeves are fine and will provide sufficient protection for many years. But they don't last forever and there may be issues with more unstable inks.

I have used Ultra Pro or similar sleeves for 25+ years with no issues. You just need to keep an eye on them and swap out if they start to get hazy or yellow... preferably before they start to get funky/gummy. LOL

I use Mylar for my best stuff, Ultra Pro for routine items.

What you need to avoid are cheap sleeves that are hazy from the start and the rigid top loaders... those are low grade PVC that will do damage quickly.

+1

Saw one guy on collectspace.com post that he puts the photo in a Mylar photo pocket, then places that in a poly three-ring sleeve with a board. While I certainly have nothing financially valuable like y'all, I would swoon if anything happened to my Norman Corwin signed photo or the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet cast photos, so I may consider going that ape-crap bonzo if I can figure out which Mylar sleeves I should use.

I agree with Steve Z. Also, be sure you store them in a dry environment.

I would personally laminate it if not framed

I could mat and frame it, I suppose, but then I'd have to store the entire thing somewhere out of the light (the purpose of scanning was to create hang-copies for my office, now replaced by a digital frame that can display them all). Is lamination really a thing for autographed photos?

Lamination is a plastic sleeve with heat activated adhesive. It will ruin any item in it. Lamination is the kiss of death if you ever want to resell.

Well, selling isn't a concern; unlike most here, I have every autograph I ever got (including those from my long-distant childhood). But my daughter may want to dump them all on the open market once I'm gone, so...  ;)

Yeah, lamination seemed a bit...wrong. I've done it with cards, photocopies, and easily-reproduced snapshots mainly to protect from water, but never an autographed photo.

Just a quick thank you for the help and suggestions; I now have the photographs out of the vinyl and into poly sleeves, with a few of those valuable to me (and the damaged one) in mylar sleeves (although I wish I had picked up two-side-open ones instead of top loaders...live and learn!). Still looking for something to protect the 10x14 2001 photo, but otherwise my collection is safe.

Thanks to all for the advice! Now onward to ask about the few autographs I didn't get in person...and how to store the one lip-print I did...

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