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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Packing Antiques - How to & How not to!

Something that we are asked on a weekly basis by internet customers is - "Will my item arrive safely and will you pack it well?"

This week's blog will not only answer that question but also give you some valuable hints and tips about how to package antiques for shipping, whether UK post or international sea freight!
 Here's Samantha, the latest addition to our team, having a lesson in packing

First of all - the most important thing when packing small and medium sized antiques, especially breakable such as glass or ceramics. Use a box at LEAST double the size of the item and if possible use two boxes, one fully packaged inside another to reduce vibrations reaching the item inside.

Secondly, do not scrimp on packing materials, plenty of newspaper, bubble wrap and polystyrene beads are the bread and butter of a well packed item. We should know - we have a 99% success rate at getting items to their destination in perfect condition!

Thirdly, be methodical and consistent. This is something that only applies if you are packing multiple goods but is a rule we teach our staff to use when packing on an everyday basis.

To start with, collect all of the things you will need to pack your item, below is a quick checklist.
  • Two cardboard boxes of differing sizes
  • Bubble wrap 
  • Polystyrene sheeting / Newspaper
  • Polystyrene beads or similar pieces of soft spongy material
  • Strong wide brown Tape
  • Fragile Tape or white tape that you can write 'Fragile' on
  • Scissors
Start by wrapping your item in either newspaper or polystyrene sheeting, then pack the smaller cardboard box with some newspaper, bubble wrap or polystyrene beads to pad the bottom out. Place your item into the box, filling ALL remaining space with any soft packing material, as mentioned above. Seal the box with some strong wide brown tape, no need for fragile tape as this is the inner box.

Now is the time to use your second, larger box. Tape up the bottom with the wide brown tape, so that when you pick it up with your item in everything doesn't disappear through the base! (Particularly relevant if re-using a cardboard box that has already had some use)

Fill the bottom of the larger box with soft packaging material, such as newspaper, bubble wrap or polystyrene beads. Next, place your smaller cardboard box housing your item into the larger box and fill ALL remaining space with soft packing materials. The key to this method is tightly packing the box, so the item does not rattle around and also, the smaller box does not rattle around in the larger box. This minimises vibrations, meaning only the most violent of incidents will break the item within.

Finally, tape the box up using plenty of wide brown tape and complete with several wraps of fragile tape to accentuate the importance of care to the couriers.

Ultimately, using a well established and reputable courier is half the battle. We use UPS and they work very efficiently delivering packages all over the world for us, with accurate tracking and plenty of experience at handling fragile items. Also, the local UPS driver is exceptionally friendly and goes out of his way to make our lives as easy as possible.

Larger items are best left to professionals, as they often require wooden crates to protect them. This is especially relevant when items are travelling by sea freight, as this chest below illustrates.

A chest that looked very similar to this one is in the crates above, separated into two - such a handy design!

We ship items all over the world and not only are we very experienced at packaging, we're pretty successful at getting items to their destination in the same condition they left in. We quote on an individual basis for international purchases, although we ship a container that leaves us every 6 - 10 weeks going to North Carolina in the USA. This means that anyone in the states can benefit from free shipping to North Carolina and then either collect or arrange a courier from there.

To see full details about our shipping costs and delivery times, visit our purchase information page

Thank you for reading our blog, if we've interested you on this occasion, then why not follow us on twitter for more regular updates and insights?

Graham Smith Antiques Ltd 2011

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