A dresser owned by a queen. A teapot once used by your great, great grandmother. When we ship antiques, we’re not just moving around things; we’re shipping history from here to there.
We care that antiques remain preserved. We want them to continue to convey the past in a way that enriches the present. A broken object seldom does that in the same way. As such, every antiques shipment is all about the extra steps. What follows are some tips to help ensure that your objects and their histories arrive intact.
Ahead of Time: Preparing to Ship Antiques
While packing and shipping a Christmas present or care package yourself is fine, doing the same for an antique or priceless family heirloom is not. This job is best left to the professionals. A knowledgeable antiques shipping company can assess the needs of your item and properly handle it from start to finish.
After taking the first step to hire a reputable packing and shipping company, you should take a look at the different insurance policies the company offers. It’s the claim you never want to file, but part of shipping antiques is also about insuring. You want a solid and well-documented appraisal of the objects before they go. Some companies even offer specialized staff to simplify this process. This tends to mean that your shipper has lots of experience with antique-specific tasks.
Shipping: Containers and Packing for Antiques
There are some steps that you want to see your shipper make when packing up your piece. The following shortlist can help you identify best practices.
Prepping the Object: Packing antiques is often about securing fragile and moving parts. If your shipper can safely remove any doors, handles, glass panels or other delicate parts, they should. Each item should then be packed separately and clearly labeled.
Shell Materials: Depending on what you are shipping, double wall cardboard boxes may be the best material of choice. Your shipper should insulate your antique with bubble wrap and foamcore pieces within one container and then place that shell within a second layer of cushion and a second box. Other kinds of objects will do better in plastic hard-shell structures, or they’ll require a custom-built wooden crate. Be certain that the shipper you choose can provide these important custom packaging options.
Adhesives: Securing components against independent motion? Antiques shipping experts say “no” when it comes to adhesive tape. The company should use string and ropes instead. Better yet, hold down parts that could be damaged with shrink wrap.
Finally, before your packed antiques go out the door, double check that every crate and box is accurately and very legibly labeled. Be sure that your packing carries the proper precautions: Fragile. Do not load or stack. This side up.
With these steps complete, your antiques are in good shape to arrive intact, and the process will become just another part of their ongoing story – a new chapter with many more to come.
-James O’Brien’s work can be found at Mashable, OPEN Forum, Forbes.com, TheAtlantic.com, and elsewhere. He writes about media, finance, business, travel, and tech.
This article was prepared for Antique and Personal Property Appraisals on behalf of Craters and Freighters.