The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 4, Number 5
Nov 1991


Permanence Testing of Stamp Collectors' Materials

About two years ago, the Collectors Club of Chicago set up the Arthur Salm Foundation, with the aid of a grant from the family of a deceased member, for the purpose of testing the permanence and durability of supplies being sold to stamp collectors on the open market. With interest from the $50,000 endowment, an annual testing program is being carried out, and reports are published each year on March 4, Mr. Salm's birthday.

The first report of the Arthur Salm Foundation appeared in March, giving permanence test data from an independent, nationally recognized paper testing lab, on 64 stamp album pages. The names and suppliers of the album pages are given, along with test results on each, but the pages are not evaluated or compared in Consumer Reports fashion. Six album pages had a pH below 5.0 before aging, and many had a negligible alkaline reserve even though their pH ranged up to 7.5. No groundwood or reduced sulfur was found in any of the pages, but the testing lab found alum every time they looked for it. The grain direction of each page was noted, because they realize that a page will perform better and last longer if the grain is parallel to the binding.

Similar reports will be prepared every year. Tests are currently under way on hinges, mounts and pages with plastic covers. Tools and equipment, as well as paper and supplies, will be tested in the future.

The foundation is an independent non-profit corporation, based at the Collectors Club of Chicago, 1029 North Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60610. The album page report is available without charge to interested collectors upon receipt of a business length envelope with 29,t postage on it.

Les Winick, who has been coordinating all this, wrote in June to say, "The reaction from the report is very interesting. We mailed out 2,600 so far, which is a fantastic response. We've received dozens of letters praising the report and its value for stamp collectors. Three album page distributors wrote that they are going to change suppliers to acid free. One distributor said that he was waiting for the report and will start by using only alkaline paper."

Canadian Conservators Get Paper Permanence Committee

Although most conservators work on paintings and other museum artifacts rather than books and paper, the national organizations of conservators in two countries have recently been promoting the production and use of permanent paper. In Australia, they have been lobbying for several years for laws to encourage this, and at their most recent annual meeting, a quarter of all the papers were on paper permanence

The following notice was sent out by the Canadian conservators' organization in August:

"In recognition of the significance and magnitude of the permanent paper issue, the International Institute for Conservation - Canadian Group (IIC-CG) established the Committee on Paper Permanence in the spring of 1991.

"The Purpose of the committee is to advocate the importance of permanent paper and its role in preventing future problems in paper-based collections. We aim to:

"Contact: Holly Simpson, Chair, Committee on Paper Permanence, c/o City of Toronto Archives, City Clerk's Department, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N2 (416/392-7483; fax 416/392-6990)."

Pulping and Bleaching

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