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Important information about storing comic books in fire proof/resistant safes
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Question

It has come to CGC’s attention that certain safes may be harmful to comic books.

 

Over a year ago, CGC received a call from a collector stating that he had some books with rust growing on staples of a few comics. There had been no rust when he last saw the books. We asked that the owner send the books to CGC for inspection. When the books came in, we were very surprised to see extremely rusty staples that had not been rusted a few years prior. After a long investigation and with the help of the collector, we learned that rust could have developed because of the chemical compound used to make his safe fireproof or fire resistant. But because information was limited, at that time, we suspected that heavy moisture in the room where the safe was located contributed to the poor storage conditions for these books, not just the safe itself, since we have never heard of this happening before.

 

Just a few days ago, we received another call.

 

A collector, well-known to CGC, called to ask about the same problem affecting a single book. He was told to send his book in so that we could see it. After thinking about it that evening and remembering the “safe” incident from the year before, I called him the very next morning. I asked him if his comic was stored in a fireproof safe, and his answer was “yes.” I then asked him if it was a safe made by the same company. His answer again was, “yes.” Subsequent examination revealed that not just a single comic book was affected, but a few had rusted staples.

 

Coincidently, both reported incidents involved the same brand safes. We have strong reason to believe that ANY fireproof or fire resistant safe might create a harmful storage environment for your comics. Yesterday, we also learned that fireproof/fire resistant safes are prone to develop moisture. Many fire resistant safes contain insulation, which in turn, contains water crystals; thus the high content of moisture.

 

The collector who recently contacted us furthermore revealed this statement from the owner’s manual for his safe: “Inside of the safe is subject to humidity. If you wish to store stamps or other items which may be affected by moisture, place them in an air tight container before storing”.

 

If you have a fireproof or resistant safe, or if you are thinking about buying one, PLEASE do as much research as possible to determine if it can be harmful to non-precious metals.

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I don't own a safe, but I use one frequently at work. I had thought it fairly common knowledge that a metal safe in not a dry environment. Most safes owners utilize silica gel packets to absorb moisture/humidity. More silica gel would be needed based upon the interior size of the safe in question. I don't know about the life of such packets, but I would recommend changing them regularly.

 

It sounds like the 2 collectors in the example did not take such precautions and paid the price for it.

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893scratchchin-thumb.gif Gun safes don't seem to have this problem. Guns will rust in a heartbeat, especially older guns.

 

No worries thought, my comics will burn, burn, burn if my house goes up!

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No worries thought, my comics will burn, burn, burn if my house goes up!

 

If the house went up in flames, the last thing I would be worried about is my comics. 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

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No worries thought, my comics will burn, burn, burn if my house goes up!

 

If the house went up in flames, the last thing I would be worried about is my comics. 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

 

Depends on what comics you own. Action #1-10 9.4 cloud9.gif

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No worries thought, my comics will burn, burn, burn if my house goes up!

 

If the house went up in flames, the last thing I would be worried about is my comics. 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

 

Depends on what comics you own. Action #1-10 9.4 cloud9.gif

 

You obviously don't have children . . . 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

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No worries thought, my comics will burn, burn, burn if my house goes up!

 

If the house went up in flames, the last thing I would be worried about is my comics. 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

 

Depends on what comics you own. Action #1-10 9.4 cloud9.gif

 

You obviously don't have children . . . 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

 

you're right, in that case Detectives 1-27 devil.gif

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Thanks for the good info Steve. I'm wondering if the OVERuse of dessicants such as silica gel might in any way possibly be detrimental to current condition of the comic? Probably not, I'd think. confused-smiley-013.gif

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I don't own a safe, but I use one frequently at work. I had thought it fairly common knowledge that a metal safe in not a dry environment. Most safes owners utilize silica gel packets to absorb moisture/humidity. More silica gel would be needed based upon the interior size of the safe in question. I don't know about the life of such packets, but I would recommend changing them regularly.

 

It sounds like the 2 collectors in the example did not take such precautions and paid the price for it.

 

I've got a fire resistant metal safe and have several LARGE dessicant packs inside it. They've been in there for, oh, at least 10 years. Also there's some other thick sheet of stiff paper-ish material with text on it instructing the owner to keep that inside. Metal items inside the safe have not rusted in all that time. The packs came with the safe! thumbsup2.gif

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Man, better check for the rusty staple!!

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This may explain what happened to me. I had a 1980 Pittsburg Steelers unopened beer can that I had just stored on my bookshelf for years, then after I got my fireproof safe, I put it in there with some other valuables including one raw comic. As bad luck would have it, I discovered the can possibly due to slight rust along the seam, split slightly open and leaked the contents. My one comic was the only thing to get affected by the leakage. Lessen quickly learned there.

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This may explain what happened to me. I had a 1980 Pittsburg Steelers unopened beer can that I had just stored on my bookshelf for years, then after I got my fireproof safe, I put it in there with some other valuables including one raw comic. As bad luck would have it, I discovered the can possibly due to slight rust along the seam, split slightly open and leaked the contents. My one comic was the only thing to get affected by the leakage. Lessen quickly learned there.

Its was the Iron man issue where Tony becomes an alcoholic wasnt it

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Steve,

 

Have any collectors had problems with storing their CGC graded books inside safety deposit boxes at banks?

 

As far as fire proof safes are concerned, I still remember watching a Judge Wapner People's Court episode where a comic collector was suing the safe manufacturer for the same problem described above. The guy's ASM #1 (among 24 other books) had either stained or had rusted staples because of the moisture within the safe. Since Wapner had no clue about how the comic book's condition had worsened, he dismissed the case and ruled in favor of the safe owner. This episode was at least 15 years ago, but I've always been weary of safes since that day.

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What if you could rig a humidor to be low temperature and low humidity (and low oxygen level)? 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

 

 

[Just a thought I've had for a while.]

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I keep money in my safe! along with a 9mm pistol and a .22 cal snub nose. No rust on them.

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As far as fire proof safes are concerned, I still remember watching a Judge Wapner People's Court episode where a comic collector was suing the safe manufacturer for the same problem described above. The guy's ASM #1 (among 24 other books) had either stained or had rusted staples because of the moisture within the safe. Since Wapner had no clue about how the comic book's condition had worsened, he dismissed the case and ruled in favor of the safe owner.

 

 

Damn you, Judge Wapner! sumo.gifsign-rantpost.gif

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Gun safes don't seem to have this problem. Guns will rust in a heartbeat, especially older guns.

True but your average gun owner knows to keep guns well oiled. This can make all the difference between rust and no rust even in higher humidity. I don't know of any comic collectors who oil the staples of their comics. Well maybe that guy who is selling the X-men #1.(See personal lube thread in general. Insert puking graemlin here)

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Steve,

This seems like an obvious solution, but are moisture-absorbing silica packets too easy an answer?

Wonka

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This may explain what happened to me. I had a 1980 Pittsburg Steelers unopened beer can that I had just stored on my bookshelf for years, then after I got my fireproof safe, I put it in there with some other valuables including one raw comic. As bad luck would have it, I discovered the can possibly due to slight rust along the seam, split slightly open and leaked the contents. My one comic was the only thing to get affected by the leakage. Lessen quickly learned there.

 

Yes but did you drink rest of the beer??

 

Oh and go STEELERS!!!

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hm Gun safes don't seem to have this problem. Guns will rust in a heartbeat, especially older guns.

 

No worries thought, my comics will burn, burn, burn if my house goes up!

 

Actually, gun owners can have this problem and it is fairly common to use dessicants, such as silica gel.

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Thanks for the good info Steve. I'm wondering if the OVERuse of dessicants such as silica gel might in any way possibly be detrimental to current condition of the comic? Probably not, I'd think. confused-smiley-013.gif

 

Hey, Darth. You are correct.

 

Theoretically, silica gel should be conditioned to maintain a desirable RH. Too much silica gel not properly conditioned will not only suck the moisture out of the air, but paper as well. It is not only used for conservation work, but dried flower arrangers use it to completely dry out flowers and plants. The same effect can happen with paper, it's just less noticeable.

 

By the way, there's not easy way to figure out how to condition silica gel. Instead, there's a great product called Art Sorb that is pre-conditioned. It also costs a small fortune.

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