How to Store and Preserve Vellum and Parchment Documents

What is the Best Way to Store & Handle Vellum & Parchment Documents?

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Vellum and parchment documents are important historical artifacts that require special care and preservation to ensure their longevity. These materials, which are made from animal hides, are delicate and can easily be damaged if not handled properly.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when caring for vellum and parchment documents is to avoid exposing them to excessive light, heat, and fluctuations in humidity. Light can cause fading and discoloration, while heat and humidity can cause the skin to warp, crack, or even become moldy and deteriorate. If you must handle these documents, be sure to do so wearing gloves.

Cleaning Vellum & Parchment Manuscripts

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Another important aspect of caring for vellum and parchment documents is to keep them clean. Dust and other particles can accumulate on the surface of these materials, and then become imbedded over time in the surface of the skin, creating permanent discoloration and surface grime, and often obscuring media as well.

To keep your vellum manuscripts clean, use a soft brush to gently remove any dust or debris. PLEASE NOTE: if there any of the media is friable, please hire a professional conservator to perform this task, as it can damage the media irreparably otherwise.  Avoid using water or other liquid solvents, as these can cause parchment & vellum to warp, darken and discolor.

What Is the Best Way to Store Vellum & Parchment Documents?

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When storing vellum and parchment documents, it is important to use acid-free, archival-quality materials. The acid in paper can cause discoloration and weakening of the parchment or vellum over time. For long-term storage, it is best to keep these documents in a cool, dark place that is climate controlled.

How Do You Frame Vellum and Parchment Materials?

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When displaying vellum and parchment documents, it’s important to use archival framing materials with a UV-coated plexiglass or UV-coated glass glazing. Ideally, hire a framer who is experienced at handling vellum and parchment, as they present specialized framing considerations & challenges.

How Do You Care for & Preserve Vellum & Parchment Documents?

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In summary, caring for vellum and parchment documents requires a delicate touch and attention to detail. These materials are sensitive to light, heat, and humidity, so it’s important to store them in a climate controlled environment with minimal exposure to direct sunlight. Clean them gently with a soft brush, use acid-free, archival-quality materials for storage, and use UV-protective frames for display. With proper care, these historical artifacts can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

At Kelsey National Book and Paper Conservation, we offer a full range of services to assist our clients with preserving their works of art on paper, manuscript & document collections, vellum & parchment artifacts, and bound volumes.  These may include lithographs, serigraphs, mezzotint, aquatint, engravings, acrylic paintings, watercolor paintings, gouache paintings, pencil & ink drawings, historical documents, vellum scrolls & manuscripts, rare antique & vintage books, family bibles, and more.

We serve clients nationwide, including areas such as:

Asheville, North Carolina – Atlanta, Georgia – Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Charleston, South Carolina – Charlotte, North Carolina – Chattanooga, Tennessee – Columbia, South Carolina – Durham, North Carolina – Fayetteville, North Carolina – Louisville, Kentucky – Nashville, Tennessee – Raleigh, North Carolina – Richmond,  Virginia – Roanoke, Virginia – Savannah, Georgia – Virginia Beach, Virginia – Washington, DC

Contact us today for an estimate!

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