Tips to Conserve, Preserve, and Restore Your Music Box Collection

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

Copyright 2006 Monique Hawkins

For the serious music box collector, looking after their valuable collection is important. Though preserving, conserving, and restoration sound similar, there is a difference between these concepts. Let's discover that these differences are.

Preservation: this means ensuring that one's music box is protected from deterioration and damage. It means taking such good care of it so that the likelihood of it being damaged is minimal.

Conservation: This means to stop and further deterioration that has already has or still is occurring and to reverse the process. Restoration: This means returning a music box to its original state. It also means there will be no attempts to improve the original by use of materials, decoration, or finish.

Always remember that conservation needs to have priority over restoration when there is deterioration going on. Deterioration is something that all music box and antique lovers need to watch out for. It is caused by problems such as high or low relative humidity, light problems, insects and other pests, and mechanical damage due to bad storage or poor handling.

Humidity is hard to regulate. However, if one tries to maintain a constant humidity for a music box, little damage will likely occur. Parasite attacks from insects such as beetles and moths have to be avoided. There are ways to do this. For example, mothballs or moth crystals work very well for moths in closed areas. One can also use a liquid like chlorinated hydrocarbon.

Light causes damage to music boxes by creating heat in a confined space. Ultra violet light causes wood to fade and also impacts varnish and polish. To avoid light damage, keep music boxes away from direct and artificial light.

Mechanical damage shouldn't even occur! So, it is important to be never be careless when handling or moving a music box or other valuable collectibles.

The restoration process usually begins with an examination of a music box. It works best to use the same materials and methods used by the original craftsman. Part of the restoration process can also include repairs to documentation. Why? Documentation with a music box such as the tune sheet in the lid, instruction cards, the original bill of sale, and repair notes are part of the music box. If someday the music box or antique collector wants to sell their valuable collectible, it would be important to have the necessary paperwork in order.

Looking after a music box collection is just as important as carefully choosing which music boxes to collect. Follow the above tips to ensure the long life of music box collection.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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