Care, Display, and Cleaning of Fine Items

The Collectible Guru Tells All! Information on Everything From Gift Buying, Care and Cleaning, and even How To's.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Care, Display, and Cleaning of your Collectible Teddy Bear/Porcelain Doll

As questions about the proper care of collectible teddy bears/porcelain dolls seem to come up quite often, I thought I would help those of you out who have many collectible items and don’t know how to manage them by giving you a short checklist.

  1. Please do not put your teddy bear or porcelain doll in a sunny window! This will cause discoloration of the poor things’ fur and/or clothes.
  2. Please do not wash your teddy bear in your washing machine unless it says you can on the care tag! When you open your washer, you might see a flattened, decapitated bear! (Autopsy anyone?)
  3. When your teddy bear/porcelain doll becomes dusty, please don’t wipe it with a wet rag! Either gently vacuum the dust off of its head, arms, legs, and clothing or put those babies outside on a nice windy day (in the shade). (Make sure it isn’t going to rain first and please don’t leave your item unsecured! They will blow away and disappear forever!) An easy way to anchor teddy bears in the wind is to tie their legs to a NEW piece of wood with a fishing line, then set the wood across something like sawhorses so the wind can circulate better. Don’t leave them out for more than 30 minutes because you never know what a bird/dog/rain cloud might decide to do.
  4. Glass and plastic eyes may be wiped clean with a dry microfiber cloth.
  5. Leather foot/paw pads/shoes may also be cleaned with a dry soft cloth.
  6. If you need to remove something like splatters of kool-aid from a leather foot/paw pad (don’t ask), you can use a good saddle soap.

Okie dokie, on to other things! Next, I am going to tell you how to display your collectible teddy bear/porcelain doll for maximum visibility and cuteness!

  1. Put tall teddy bears and dolls in the back and short ones in the front. (Like you didn’t already know this) It increases visibility of the smaller items.
  2. Put items that are dressed alike together (country with country, formal with formal, etc…) that way they will look like they are actually doing something besides just sitting around gathering dust. (darn lazy things takin’ up all my space… why I oughtta…you get the point)
  3. Teddy bears/dolls that go together, should stay together! Geeze, if you separate them it will be like taking away their best friend.
  4. Make sure that your bears/dolls are well out of the reach of animals in your home. Some dogs like to eat them and some cats like to scratch on them.
  5. If you have the time and energy available, make some scenes with your items. Include things like little trees and benches or a dance floor and dining tables. People who view your collection will believe you to be a genius with a few little changes or additions!
  6. Put your collectible teddy bears all over the house. Don’t limit them to one room! Install a beautiful shelf in your dining room or bathroom and put a plush or two up there as well! Porcelain dolls will brighten any room and gain quite a lot of compliments. (just make sure if they are in the bathroom, they don’t get a lot of steam… smell that? it is a wet/mildewed doll!)

Now, if you decide to keep your teddy bears/dolls in their original container forever, make sure that they are stored where the plastic breakdown of the package is retarded and try to remember that the longer your item is deprived of air, the sicker it will become!

If your little one pulls a limb or a head off of your favorite doll, DO NOT throw it away and cry! Call a bear doctor ASAP! As usual, I have included a list: (this one is for teddy bears and is in Pennsylvania) (this one is for teddy bears and is in Australia) (this one is for dolls and is in Kansas)

Till next time,

The Collectible GURU
I work at

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Care and Cleaning of old/rare books

I am in NO way an expert on the care and cleaning of rare/old books but I have listened when my elders have given me instructions in the past. So now, I will share with you what I remember. It is so frustrating to see people treat books with no respect. So, for all of you who don't realize what you are doing to your books when you do it, here is a breakdown of care and cleaning procedures:

First of all, NEVER lay your books upside down and open on a table! Why? This puts stress on the spine and breaks the glue that holds the book together. Do this enough and you will have, not a book in your hands, but a couple of covers and some loose leaf paper. Your choice really but I would give you a nice lecture if I ever saw you do it. : )

Second, do not allow your books to sit on your bookshelf unsupported/crooked. Either lay them down and stack them or use bookends or another book for support. If your book looks like this / or this \ then the covers and binding will be strained and your book cover could break in half! I know, scary right?

Third, please do not dust your book with a damp rag! A gentle vacuuming or feather dusting will remove any dust gathered on the top and spine. This should be done at least once a month as dust can cause discoloring of pages.

Fourth, when you are reading your book, place it in your lap or place a rolled up towel under it to support the covers. Why? Because books were made to be held and cradled by the reader, in the hands or lap, not to be put on a table and smashed flat. If you do this, it will strain your binding and your pages will begin to fall out. (Don't say you were never warned!)

Fifth, do not store your books in plastic containers. The plastic has chemicals in it and as it breaks down, it will break down the fragile book inside. (Imagine going to get your favorite old book because you have decided to sell it and finding a pile of dust! Oh, woe!) Instead, choose to store your books wrapped in brown paper and place them in corrugated cardboard boxes and stack them on pallets. Do not store them any way but flat and make sure they are snug (not tight) in the box. Do not store them where pests can get to them. (Silverfish and bookworms will eat the glue out of the binding. Also, RATS AND MICE will use your books for bedding if they can get to them.) Cleanliness and diligence will thwart bugs and rodents. DO NOT USE CHEMICAL PESTICIDES! Last, but not least, do not tape your box so well that it cannot vent and store it in a CLOSET!

Sixth, DO NOT put tape on the binding of your books!! If you have a book that is falling apart, wrap it with string 2 ways and gently tie it like a package (don't get excited and tie these too tight!!!) then wrap as instructed above. After you have followed these steps to make sure you will not lose pages, contact a conservator, most can repair your book with very little damage to the original construction.

Seventh, wear COTTON gloves when handling the outsides of old books but not when you are turning pages as this can cause breakage. Why wear gloves when handling the outside? You have oils on your hands that will transfer to the book and cause discoloration of the binding/cover. Well then, why take them off when you turn pages? Because when you have cotton gloves on, the fabric can catch the delicate edges of the paper and because you can't feel the pages, you are more prone to move the wrong way and crumble them. Just make sure your hands are clean and dry before handling pages.

Eighth (I know it seems to go on and on), IF you have an accident and your books get wet (I am tearing up at the thought), use a hair dryer to dry the pages while constantly flipping them and separating them to prevent sticking. After your book is COMPLETELY dry, press it under heavy books (please do not put something weighted on top of your book unless it is another book as it will leave indentations) to prevent warping. If it is an old book that has gotten wet, gently separate the pages and insert tissue paper between EACH one. Gently press on the covers, remove tissue, and repeat until every page is completely dry. Then press as instructed above. If you cannot dry all of your books before they are ruined, FREEZE THEM. Yes, that's right; stick that sucker in the freezer. It will keep it from becoming more damaged while you dry its brethren. Then, you can defrost the books one at a time and dry them at your leisure.

Last (about time huh?), if you have a book that is broken, has tape on the binding, has loose pages, or has been eaten by pests, follow the instructions above and call a book doctor quick!!! I have included a list:

Or you can search yourself: use BOOK REPAIR in any search engine!

If you decide to just get rid of your old book... CONTACT ME at and I WILL TAKE IT OFF YOUR HANDS!!!!

Till next time,

The Collectible GURU
I work at