Check out this exciting find! Thanks Mom!!
This is a Valentine’s Day greeting card dated February 14, 1900. There’s even a message hidden behind one of the layers. Click the image to read my full post about it on Who Were They?
My mother has tons of secrets squirreled away in drawers and occasionally she takes them out to share and pass on. Last weekend after Melody’s birthday, she gave me this, and also a box full of 100+ year old baby clothing. Squeee! One of the items is a christening dress with gorgeous tiny pin tucks and lace and it is oh, so delicate. We were able to see where the dress had been altered to allow for a bigger baby to wear it. Also, tiny baby bibs, backed with flannel, each edged with tatted lace. And two insanely fragile and gorgeous baby bonnets, one so filmy it was surely just for the christening. It definitely shows that babies have gotten bigger in the last 100 or so years! The bonnets were so tiny they look like doll clothes. I will try to get some photos of these later on, but right now I’m trying to figure out my budget for preserving them. I plan to have them placed in shadow boxes so they can be seen but not touched.
If you have antique items such as these, the first and best way to preserve them is to not touch them. If you must touch them, wear cotton gloves. The oils and residue our fingers and hands leave behind on these age-worn items will damage them. Next, keep them away from bright light and sunlight. If you ever noticed that the curtains around your windows are faded, it’s due to the natural bleaching properties of sunlight. That’s why linens hung out to dry are crisp and bright white! Many of my mom’s treasures are indeed in drawers or closets, away from natural light and even lamp light. If you do display your item, make sure it is behind museum quality glass that blocks UV rays. This will help protect dyes from fading and paper from disintegrating.
Finally, if you must launder something because it is yellowed with age, look into laundry soap flakes. These are different from detergents and are more gentle on delicate antique fabrics. You can use Woolite for delicates, or if you are really into preservation you can research French laundry flakes. For some reason they are not really easy to find in America. There are a couple services that will clean your heirloom items for a fee, such as Allo Laverie, in New York. I haven’t worked with them, so not an endorsement. Also, OxyClean dissolved in the hottest water possible for you to tolerate will work for removing most stains. Gently swirl the fabric in the soapy water and let it sit. It could take hours. You don’t want too high of a concentration of OxyClean but you also don’t want too little. The more delicate the item, the less soap. Once you feel the stains have come out as much as they are going to, remove the item from the water, refill you basin with cold water and rinse carefully until all traces of the OxyClean are gone.