Stamps Are Art

Protection, Preservation, and Care


Are Your Plastic Sleeves, Holders, and Storage Products “Safe”

CAUTION ... ALERT ! ...  many plastic philatelic, comic book, baseball card, art sleeves, mounts and holders sold as "inert" and "safe" may not be what they purport to be! Most collectors trust (and leave to) the manufacturers and distributors of the collection storage products to sell plastic merchandise that is "safe". The next few posts will provide examples of plastic sleeves, holders and mounting products sold by "trusted" manufacturers that over time have not lived up what collectors should expect. The first example illustrates a portion of a plastic sleeve for holding larger items such as envelopes,  letters etc, which was sold to trusting collectors by the well known manufacturer Lighthouse Lechturm. As can be seen, the top sheet has started to decompose and turn a discolored yellow brown, which is a sign that a chemical breakdown of the plastic in the sheet has begun. Any paper items held within or by this plastic product would be exposed to its chemical reactions and eventually would be damaged. The bottom sheet is shown without discoloration in the condition one would expect the holder to remain.   The "safe" stamp holder shown above implicates the art and philatelic products of other manufacturers, who in most cases purport their plastic products to protect and be "safe" and "inert", even when they with or without knowledge know that the plastic, rubber, adhesives, and paper being used with/in their is not. How is a collector to know whether the plastic storage products they have purchased are safe?  Well the first step is to conduct a visual inspection.  If any discoloration is present, its a good sign that your collection is in danger and that your plastic storage containers need to be replaced.  But as you will see in further posts, just because there is no discoloration in the plastic is not a sign that it is necessarily safe to continue to use. All this begs the question, how can a collector be certain that the manufacturer of the plastic storage products they are about to purchase is selling a product that will be safe?  For my answer, you will have to wait to the next post.

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