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Hello everyone,

My father and grandfather collected National Geographics and I found myself continuing the collection as I grew up. I currently have approximately 70+ complete years plus some partial years. My earliest issue is from July 1914. I have pondered getting rid of the collection because most of the older half is piled in my fathers basement and I am trying to figure out whether I want to put the money in to help preserve/display the collection. So my question is this, what would be a good way to help preserve/display a large collection? I have thought about getting slip cases and then just putting those in bookcases but I am kind of worried about the effect of the constant pressure that the slipcases put on the issues of a volume.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


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Hi Steve,

Welcome to the site! I have a few thoughts to share with you, based on my own trial and error experience. There's all kinds of things to say about displaying them, really. Some people are content to have the issues stored around and they know they can access any when desired. Others intentionally want their collection out in the open so visitors would see them. There can be pros/cons to each of the various ways one keeps their Nat Geos.

I believe I know what your thought is when you say the pressure on the issues from slipcases....though I would advise that those slipcases are the best way to manage the set. While a slipcase partially full would perhaps allow an issue to curve in its posture, overall the slipcases keep the issues in shape - when full (6 per case). The paper is thinner now than it was for decades, but the pre 2000 issues tend to hold their own pretty well (standing up I mean). The slipcases keep the sun and natural light off the magazines, as well as keep the dust off the top edges. They look really nice in a shelf all lined up too! They are dated so you know what's what.

One thing you DO NOT want to have is them stacked up in piles, even if small piles, height wise. When they are all stacked up (as in laying down stacked), and all the spine edges are facing the same side, the issues begin to warp, and then the spine edge contorts too. This is next to impossible to "fix" once it has happened. Most people would agree that this is how Geos end up being stored too! If they have to be stacked, and even packed away for a shorter duraction., it is best -though not perfect- to alternate every 2 issues face to face. In other words, have it so every 2 or 3 issues are facing the same way (cover and spine edge) and then rotate the next batch of 2 or 3 the opposite way. I have found this prevents very much the sagging and mis-shaping that happens. To a certain degree, it can "correct" already sagged/bent issues, though not perfectly. Again, all that is more true for the older issues when they were much heavier paper and cover stock. The current issues don't seem to contort in the same manner...

If you don't have slipcases, I'd say it's still better to line them standing up together, snugly, on a shelf. A barrister bookcase would be ideal then. It comes to a point when one has to know if they want to USE and Enjoy their issues, or squirrel them away to be unseen, unread, unappreciated. I say this as there are some folks who would decry my advice and say it will ruin the issues. Then again, these are the collector's who want each single issue hermetically sealed for eternity, Ha-ha!

How is your Father's basement? Temperature and moisture-wise? If it's stable and consistent you are okay for awhile. But don't leave them there too long if able to change their location. A basement need not be the death of the issues, as some people have porches or living rooms more dangerous to the Nat Geos.

If you want to chat more I am happy to! Any questions or your own comments I'd be happy to read. A note about the slipcases: if you don't have any yet - they are nice yet pricey per set (2 per year per 6 issues) from the NGS store online. You can watch ebay for them. People will offer them up as just the cases w/o issues and you can get good deals. They are $15.95 new per set!! I got ALL my slipcases from 1950-2003 from eBay, and then 2004-2007 through NGS. The slipcases only go back to 1950, as manufactured and dated. However, with the Dymo label makers now, you can always get whichever dates, and relabel them for anything 1949 and before...which is what I am doing. I have slipcases re-labeled now for all my issues 1922-1949. In keeping with National Geographic spirit, I used the black font on yellow label.


Scott T. Shier
Thank you so much for all of your comments. It helps a lot actually. My fathers basement is pretty stable temperature/humidity wise. The NatGeo's that are down there have been there for probably at least 35 years which is about when my parents bought the house I think. The have been stacked with each year alternating spine orientation the whole time.

So I guess I will go the slipcase route. I already had been looking at ebay to save on money there. Some of the older issues (pre-1920's) I will probably have to put in individual sleeves due to spines degrading.

The collection will probably stay as is for about another year until I move again. I am currently in the Navy serving as an instructor in Great Lakes, IL and will move again next year. Then I will be getting a house and getting all the Geo's organized.

Again, thank you for all of your help!

I will echo Scott's comments on stacking, it is a very bad idea, both for head and tail of spine and for near permanent curvature. Upright storage on shelves or in long comics boxes (stackable to three or maybe four boxes without adverse impact on upright contents). Not attractive and not all that accessible, but I have lots so stored.

I have almost every decent issue before 1960 in individual mylar bags. If you have seventy years, buy the bags in bulk and cost is far more reasonable than bag-o-bags (usually 100) from comics dealer. You will need several different widths but 6 3/4 to 7 1/4 will handle everything except the thickest 1920s. Never put an issue into a bag that is too small, as curvature then is far worse than from merely stacking. Also cover damage is very likely.

If you want to preserve them the longest, the bags are really a very important component, both for preventing any abrasion against one another (loose on shelf or in slip cases or comics box) and for purposes of handling only the issue you want to consult, rather than six in a case. (It is an investment, but if you do want to continue the tradition, I'd really recommend it, as well as either the official slipcases or others you can find at Goodwill, eBay or elsewhere)

Hope you find next station as ni9ce as Great Lakes. I've spent a lot of time in Williamette-Evanston and love the area. Good luck
Hi there. I'm planning on getting bags for my Nat Geos and was wondering what the difference is between polyethylene and polypropylene bags. Bags Unlimited site says they're both archival quality, but one costs a bit more than the other. I was just wondering which ones are the better buy. I don't mind spending the extra money if one is better than the other.
The polyethylene bags, also known as polyester or Mylar, are usually a slightly thicker/stiffer plastic. As you say, both are archival quality as both are acid-free and will not leech damaging solvents into the magazines over the years - almost any other plastic will.
I prefer the polypropylene bags for a couple of reasons:
1. They are cheaper
2. Polypropylene won't stick to itself, unlike polyethylene. Individual bagged issue are easy to retrieve from a slipcase.

I agree with everything the other respondents have advised. Tried to attach a couple of photos that show storing the magazines in slipcases can look great on your bookshelf.

how far back do yours go? I cant find slipcovers previous of 195

Hi, you are a lucky guy. Firstly I'd say make sure they are kept in a dry place. If your basement is damp get them out of there right away. Secondly pick a wall in your home put some shelves up and get them on display. Stack them side by side in the proper order. What you have there my friend is precious. I don't know much about restoration but I find that storing them neatly and securly is half the battle.

Dusting the lot regularly keeps them relatively clean. Also whenever you take an issue down to read, give it a good once over. What I mean is straighten out any creases, dust all over and pick off any dirt or residue. While holding by the spine and shaking out the pages gently can also get rid of dust.

If all else fails you could just send the lot to me at Aptartment 403, O'Connell Court, O'Connell Street, County Waterford, Ireland. Best of luck with it.

Graham Farrell.
First I appreciate Graham's generous offer to take them off other's hand, but I will do the same without overseas freight. Houston's mighty convenient. On a more serious note, I am highly envious of Dale's cabinetry, and as I have advised young collectors (almost always male) get a pre-nuptual covering Geographic display as my wife has been a real shrew and at least half my stuff is in storage boxes.

I personally use Mylar/polyethylene bags because as VP/Counsel for Mile High Comics in late 1980s that is what Chuck Rozanski sold me and I have simply kept it up. The cost is (at least in bulk purchase) so marginally above polypropylene bags that for someone starting to bag a long collection as to be neglible.

I will offer that if compressed (say horizontal storage over months) Mylar will stick together but so will polypropylene bags. I have not (even in Houston's humidity) had trouble with Mylar adhering to itself in vertical storage in slip cases or loose in filing cabinets. There may be an adhesion difference between Mylar and polypropylene bags but it does not drastically differ. Similarly, when handling stack outside of a slipcase, I do not find slipperiness difference or difficulty of handling between Mylar and polypropylene bags. The set I have from Louis Jones from outside Orlando came in polypropylene bags and the thickness of the layer and to a very limited extent the effect of adhesive tape to seal the flaps is the only differences I have noticed. I have had his set for reference/issue sales since 1998 or 1999, and it has held up as well in polypropylene bags as any I have bagged in Mylar.

As an aside that no one has mentioned, I will raise vermin. Silverfish are the predominant problem that boric acid for roaches will not solve. Unless, as Scott Shier stated, the bag's flap is hermetically sealed, bagging alone does not guaranty against silverfish intrusion. Probably deters it, but I have taken out bagged issues to have one of the little bastards crawl out. Additionally, for issues that are not bagged (and so should not be in contact with boric acid) I have found bigger problems with crickets (Denver, Minneapolis and here) than with roaches. Hence, my prior statement that I have virtually every magazine before 1960 and all ephemera of any vintage bagged and boarded and taped at corners. From personal experience, I ruined several excellent early 1910s-1920s by having them in slipcases on shelves against an exterior wall, where the spines were ravaged by crickets. Also, from other collectors' experience, any valuable issues or books should not be stored in shelves adjacent to (and maybe not even in a room with) a fireplace that is ever used (heat transmission) and I would say even if unused because the access it provides for vermin.

Again, Dale, I am so envious

Happy collecting
Paul Crist



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