Keeping your Collection Safe.
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Hi Everyone,

So my original art collection is starting to grow, both in size and financial value/input. I have considered insurance but there seems to be a lot of steps and prohibitive cost associated with that. I am looking at getting a safe for my collection. I am primarily concerned more about fire more than theft and I am not sure where to start. My collection is stored primarily in 14x17 portfolios and I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations. Any input regarding collection protection would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.  

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Safes are useless for storing original art. Their fire ratings relate to how long the paper will remain "readable" so a 2 hour fire rating means its still readable at 2 hours but it will look like and be basically destroyed from a collector perspective.

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3 hours ago, Brian Peck said:

Safes are useless for storing original art. Their fire ratings relate to how long the paper will remain "readable" so a 2 hour fire rating means its still readable at 2 hours but it will look like and be basically destroyed from a collector perspective.

I wouldn't say useless necessarily. I would say that art won't survive as long as the fire rating listed...but it will last DRAMATICALLY longer than it would stored in a wood flat file, or portfolio on a shelf, or hanging on a wall...if there is a fire. 

 

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5 hours ago, Brian Peck said:

Safes are useless for storing original art. Their fire ratings relate to how long the paper will remain "readable" so a 2 hour fire rating means its still readable at 2 hours but it will look like and be basically destroyed from a collector perspective.

I have a "data safe", which I believe was designed to protect magnetic and digital files in fires, and thus has a much higher fire rating.  And it's constructed like a safe within a safe.  I can't remember the fire rating anymore, it's been a while, but I do remember it beat the snot out of other regular safes in protecting more delicate items like paper collectibles.

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52 minutes ago, stinkininkin said:

I have a "data safe", which I believe was designed to protect magnetic and digital files in fires, and thus has a much higher fire rating.  And it's constructed like a safe within a safe.  I can't remember the fire rating anymore, it's been a while, but I do remember it beat the snot out of other regular safes in protecting more delicate items like paper collectibles.

That must have run a pretty penny. It must be one of the three-hour models, and those run more than double the cost of the 90 minute and 2 hour models. 

 

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1 hour ago, comix4fun said:

That must have run a pretty penny. It must be one of the three-hour models, and those run more than double the cost of the 90 minute and 2 hour models. 

 

Yeah, I found a second hand one that cost significantly less than a new one.

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I've been wondering about this topic recently as well, and while fire protection is one of my concerns, it's not the only one.

On the most basic of levels - theft concerns me. Not that most people know what this stuff is when they see it, and they couldn't sell it publicly without drawing attention, but plenty of people still steal things for the thrill or because they like the pretty pictures.

Water damage is another concern. Not that a safe solves that entirely, but it certainly seems a lot more watertight than a bookcase or whatever piece of furniture we store our art in.

So I'm curious for thoughts from people who have bought safes for their art.

  1. Did you go with a gun safe or a burglary/fire safe?
  2. How big of a safe did you get dimension-wise?
  3. Any particular brand?
  4. Do you store the art in portfolios? Museum boxes? 
  5. Do you store the art inside of plastic tubs inside the safe?
  6. Are you concerned about moisture inside the safe? Do you use desiccant bags to reduce moisture or does that risk drying out the art?
  7. In retrospect, was it worth it to you? Do you sleep easier?

And anything else I'm overlooking that a safe owner may find important.

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This is a major concern for me with hurricanes. 

Ive been thinking about Pelican watertight cases. It’s not a safe but it’s a portable gear box with foam. I’ve been wondering about dimensions to go with too. 

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18 hours ago, eewwnuk said:

collectibles insurance is pretty easy and inexpensive. 

https://collectinsure.com/

I have read that safes are not good for storing paper.  

I was wondering if you know anything about the quality of the insurance carrier? Having it from a lousy company may be almost like having none at all. 

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18 hours ago, Brian Peck said:

Safes are useless for storing original art. Their fire ratings relate to how long the paper will remain "readable" so a 2 hour fire rating means its still readable at 2 hours but it will look like and be basically destroyed from a collector perspective.

When our house burned to the ground in 2010, there was an old safe.  Nobody knew the combination so, it was never closed tight.  Just pushed closed so the inner part of the door touched the outer part of the safe.

There was 10 full cords of quality, hardwood firewood stacked on the other side of the wall where the safe was.  The papers in the safe were fine.  They were the only things that survived the fire.

I have no idea what kind it was but, I wish I had put some of my collectibles in it.  

Edited by comicdonna

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9 hours ago, RabidFerret said:

I've been wondering about this topic recently as well, and while fire protection is one of my concerns, it's not the only one.

On the most basic of levels - theft concerns me. Not that most people know what this stuff is when they see it, and they couldn't sell it publicly without drawing attention, but plenty of people still steal things for the thrill or because they like the pretty pictures.

Water damage is another concern. Not that a safe solves that entirely, but it certainly seems a lot more watertight than a bookcase or whatever piece of furniture we store our art in.

So I'm curious for thoughts from people who have bought safes for their art.

  1. Did you go with a gun safe or a burglary/fire safe?
  2. How big of a safe did you get dimension-wise?
  3. Any particular brand?
  4. Do you store the art in portfolios? Museum boxes? 
  5. Do you store the art inside of plastic tubs inside the safe?
  6. Are you concerned about moisture inside the safe? Do you use desiccant bags to reduce moisture or does that risk drying out the art?
  7. In retrospect, was it worth it to you? Do you sleep easier?

And anything else I'm overlooking that a safe owner may find important.

Thank you everyone for your input and thoughts. Also thank you RabidFerret for thinking of much better questions than I did, these are great.

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4 hours ago, Rick2you2 said:

I was wondering if you know anything about the quality of the insurance carrier? Having it from a lousy company may be almost like having none at all. 

AM best rating of A.   Subsidiary of Global Indmenity Ltd, which is also A rated and publicly traded.  From what I've heard of others, claims have been relatively hassle free.  

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28 minutes ago, eewwnuk said:

AM best rating of A.   Subsidiary of Global Indmenity Ltd, which is also A rated and publicly traded.  From what I've heard of others, claims have been relatively hassle free.  

Hassle free, but dropped me entirely after making a second claim in one year.

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With Mylar having such a high melting point, in worst case of a fire any art stored within will be laminated and not turn to dust. I wonder if anyone has tried an experiment with this. 

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1 hour ago, AnkurJ said:

With Mylar having such a high melting point, in worst case of a fire any art stored within will be laminated and not turn to dust. I wonder if anyone has tried an experiment with this. 

This is definitely a job for the good folks over in Comics General!

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On 5/23/2018 at 9:21 PM, RabidFerret said:

I've been wondering about this topic recently as well, and while fire protection is one of my concerns, it's not the only one.

On the most basic of levels - theft concerns me. Not that most people know what this stuff is when they see it, and they couldn't sell it publicly without drawing attention, but plenty of people still steal things for the thrill or because they like the pretty pictures.

Water damage is another concern. Not that a safe solves that entirely, but it certainly seems a lot more watertight than a bookcase or whatever piece of furniture we store our art in.

So I'm curious for thoughts from people who have bought safes for their art.

  1. Did you go with a gun safe or a burglary/fire safe?
  2. How big of a safe did you get dimension-wise?
  3. Any particular brand?
  4. Do you store the art in portfolios? Museum boxes? 
  5. Do you store the art inside of plastic tubs inside the safe?
  6. Are you concerned about moisture inside the safe? Do you use desiccant bags to reduce moisture or does that risk drying out the art?
  7. In retrospect, was it worth it to you? Do you sleep easier?

And anything else I'm overlooking that a safe owner may find important.

 

My initial intention was to store my art in a safety deposit box and just keep high quality scans at home.  Definitely takes some of the romance out of it, and I checked with a couple of banks and they generally didn't seem to have boxes big enough to store 11x17 pages. 

Then a family member actually came across a pretty good safe second hand which I bought.  It's way bigger than needed for art storage - it's probably four feet high - and all of my portfolios sit on the bottom shelf.  I generally keep it stored there and locked; I keep thinking if I leave it out, that will be the day the big earthquake happens or the cat will pee on it (like that X-Men cover haha).  I do store other valuables inside as well since I have all sorts of room. 

1) I think it's a fire/burglary safe

2) about 4'x3' maybe?

3) I can't recall offhand - I'd have to go look

4) porfolios

5) no

6) yes - have left the bags that came with the safe inside. 

7) it actually does.  I have a big safe now I can store other things in it, and since I live in SoCal, I'm more concerned about the big one hitting, it will probably be the one thing that survives if that portion of the house comes crashing in.  And I live in a good area, but if I get burgled, there's no way anyone could move this thing!

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This topic got me to researching. Has anyone looked into Fireproof BAGS as opposed to safes? You can store the bag in a locked room or cabinet for security, but the bag itself is much cheaper than a large fireproof safe.

The only problem I have found is that I cannot find many that are large enough to store art portfolios or art. This is one of the few I was able to find. Its designed to protect documents in the event of a plane or car crash.

https://www.usbanksupply.com/index.cfm/go2/view/pID/1398/n/16qmark-w-x-18qmark-h-x-7qmark-d-fire_resistant-locking-courier-bags

Here's another product, with the following description:

"These bags are made from 1000 denier nylon and have a fire resistant liner sewn inside of the bag which can withstand temperatures up to 2500 degrees plus fahrenheit.  While we make no claim or guarantee they are "fire proof" and not sure anyone can given enough heat and exposure time, they certainly give a much greater degree of protection to important papers and items that would have no fire protection at all."

They have an 18" x 14" bag with internal dimensions of 16" x 14".

There are other bags out there that are also water resistant, or waterproof as well as fireproof. But I haven't been able to find many that fit OA

Edited by PhilipB2k17

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On 5/23/2018 at 11:21 PM, RabidFerret said:

 

  1. Are you concerned about moisture inside the safe? Do you use desiccant bags to reduce moisture or does that risk drying out the art?

Depending on the type of safe you buy it may come with something like this already installed...

12-In-dehumidifier-rod-front.jpg

It basically sits at the bottom of the safe and elevates the temperature above the temp outside the safe and dries out the air within it in the process. 

 

You'll also want one of these:

goldenrod-wireless-hygrometer-safe-senso

It's a Safe Hygrometer. The piece on the left sits inside the safe and the piece on the right (it's magnetized) sits on the door or side of the safe and lets you see at a glance the humidity inside the safe and how it relates to the temp and humidity of the house in general in that area. 

 

Both items are less than $30. 

 

If you find that the humitity levels are still too high then I suggest this inexpensive and effective dehumidifying accessory. 

51w1SKjdCnL.jpg

$15 on amazon....the little crystals in the window just below "wet" change color. When they are orange they are dry. When they turn blue you have to recharge it. 

You plug it into a wall outlet for a few hours and it recharges. It's that easy. 

 

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