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Storing & Documenting Medals – Top Tips by Henry Flynn

Storing & Documenting Medals – Top Tips by Henry Flynn


[Music] My name’s Henry Flynn. I’m from the British Museum and I run the Money and Medals Network. I’m involved in the provision of training and with my expertise being in collections management within the field of numismatics, the type of subjects that I tend to talk about are storage, documentation, and display. Coins, medals, and banknotes require a certain type of specialist equipment that not everyone’s aware of, so through my training talks I’m trying to raise awareness of the type of materials that are available, and giving relatively simple and cost-effective alternatives to how people can improve the storage of their collections. Some top tips related to the storage of medals would be to do away with the more old-fashioned types of storage equipment. So in many cases medals that have come into museum collectors in the past, they were brought in in manila envelopes which can be acidic, which means that they can off-gas, give off harmful gases which can cause the medal held inside to corrode. Ideally you would want to dispose that if that were possible and to replace it with something conservation grade. You can get acid-free paper envelopes for example. You can get acid-free card boxes which you sit the medal in instead. The same goes for PVC envelope. This is a very, very popular method of storing medals and coins. The problem with PVC is that it can cause something called envelope sweating, so when the coin is put inside the envelope a miniature environment can occur within. If moisture develops inside that envelope then that can get between the medal and the PVC which can cause a reaction, so that could cause serious problems from a conservation point of view for your objects. But if you were to remove that medal from the PVC envelope, you’re most likely going to see an imprint of the object on the PVC itself. You’ll maybe be able to make-out some of the inscription, maybe the obverse detail. That’s a sure sign that corrosion is starting to take place so it’s time to do something about it, so my recommendation would be to ditch those if you’re able to, and replace them with something that’s stable and conservation grade. [Music] With regards to documentation, put in as much information of the object as you can when you’re creating your record on your museum database. If you’re not sure of the certainty, so let’s take for example the material the medal is made of. If you think it might be bronze but you’re not sure then just put metal. The same goes for date ranges. If you are exactly sure of the date of the medal in question then put that date in your record, the production date of the medal or the date of the campaign that the medal was awarded for. But if you’re not sure, if you can’t find the information, then put a date range. Make it as narrow as you possibly can. If you’re still not sure then put quite a broad date range, so maybe 20th century, 20th to 21st century. Something like that just so you’ve got something there which is going to be of help to someone. there are various sources of information to find out more. If you wanted to visit the money and medals website, you’ll be able to download an electronic version of this. This is a booklet which was produced just this year. Really crucially, I think for a lot of people who are going to be wanting to use this, is this advice section at the back. It’s only brief, it’s only intended to be a starting point, but it does give some handy hints and helpful pointers. But you can also download it from the Money and Medals website which is moneyandmetals.org.uk [Music]


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