Note 6: Showing off your finds

Everyone wants to show off their latest finds, or collections of prize objects. These outings' are probably the time when most harm can come to your finds. Here are some tips to avoid the worst types of damage:

  • When taking finds out of their packaging, do this sitting at a table with a soft covering so that, if anything drops, less damage is done and nothing is lost
  • Keep direct handling to a minimum; pass finds around for inspection resting on their packaging and preferably in a shallow container
  • It is good practice' to wear disposable gloves when you are handling finds directly this avoids salts and oils from your skin contaminating your finds, and corrosion from your finds getting on your hands.
  • It is safest not to eat, drink or smoke whilst working with your finds.
  • Finally, take care to see that any labelling kept with the find isn't misplaced during shows and outings.

Some of these problems are solved by using shallow plastic lidded trays with different sized compartments. These are available from detectorists' and other specialist suppliers. It's best not to use these for permanent storage of finds unless the materials they are made of are of archival quality.Many people like to mount their finds in box-frames, either to hang up or to take out to shows and meetings. Kept like this, the box-frame effectively becomes the permanent storage for these finds, so:

  • The materials the box-frame is made from should be of archival quality' materials or tarnishing and even corrosion may result.
  • Box-frames are not airtight, so only very stable objects that are not likely to corrode through the presence of moisture should be stored/displayed like this.
  • Because box-frames will be hung vertically, finds will need to be fixed in position. The best way is to line the frame with plastazote' (polyethylene) foam sheet of a thickness to fill the frame up to the glass. Mark out the shapes of the objects to be mounted, and cut out the shapes to the depth necessary to receive each item. You can also fasten objects in place using either nylon fishing line or plastic covered pins. Don't use blu-tak', modelling clays, tapes or adhesives, or any other type of plastic foam sheet.

Refer to Conservation for Metal Detectorists (see Further Reading) for more information on mounting techniques.

Labelling and recording

Everything in your collection should be labelled in some way, so you know when and where it was found. Here are some suggestions:

  • If your collection is stored in polythene grip-top bags as recommended, labelling can be on the white panels on the front of the bag
  • If you keep your objects in trays or box-frames, a label can be cut from Tyvek ® ' to go under the find
  • A neat way to keep a record is to catalogue your collection, either in a loose-leaf file or using a computer database.
  • Whichever you use, it is important to include a good photo or two. Then you can add notes on identification, find spot, conservation details, other examples etc. If you want to learn more, speak to your local FLO.

Your collection and the future..

Occasionally it is a good idea to think about what you would like to do with your collection in the long-term. As your interests develop and change, you may wish to dispose of parts of your collection. Also it might be worth thinking even further into the future, and consider how you would like to deal with your collection under the terms of your will. By selling, donating or bequeathing it to a museum, you would ensure that your collection would be kept together for others to enjoy and learn from. Your FLO will be happy to discuss these issues and offer you advice, in confidence. If you follow the advice in this booklet, you will have helped to preserve your collection in good condition for future generations.