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The safest way to store/display flags?


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Hi guys.

I have a growing collection of WWII era flags.

Right now, they are all folded and in storage.

Some of them are slightly fragile.

 

I'm worried that keeping them folded for long periods of time would cause where on the creases.

 

Should vintage flags be stored flat or hanging? Or is folding and storing OK?

I appreciate any input!

 

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I go to the local fabric shop (Joann's) and get a few of their discarded fabric spools (typically, very hard rolled cardboard). I cut the spools to the appropriate lengths, and roll a flag around each spool. I use Velcro strips to wrap around each end of the spool to secure. Works great, no folds or creases, and the rolled flags can be stored in a long Rubbermaid container (kind of like for Christmas wrapping paper).

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I am certainly no expert on flags or preservation but I do have a few rare flags and I used to keep them folded neatly but an old timer told me to roll them. So I have mine rolled loosely to prevent creases. Just my 2 cents.....

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As a museum curator I will suggest to you and to all who have thought of this question before that rolling the flags, guidons, streamers, etc. is the best way to preserve and to prevent fold creases from developing. The cardboard tubes that tarheeltim has suggested is a very good idea. In addition to the cardboard rolls, we use acid free tissue paper as well as muslin cloth to act as a barrier between the cardboard and the fabric of the flags. I would also recommend that you do not roll these too tight but loosely around the tube to let the flag breathe. On occasion you can unroll the flags and rotate the sides of the flag which will also assist in the even aging of the flag. If you see that there are a lot of wrinkles in the flag prior to rolling you can very lightly iron (The lowest heat setting) the flag but making sure that you do not directly iron on the flag itself but use a barrier between the flag and the heat source. One other method that we also use is steaming the flag but again, you do not want to get too much moisture near the flag and absolutely ensure that it is completely dry before rolling. Also use the lowest possible steam setting on the steamer..

 

One of the reasons you want to have a barrier between the cardboard tube and the fabric of the flag is that the cardboard may not be acid free and after a few decades it can discolor the flag..

 

Constant inspection of our fabrics and flags will help prevent irreversible damage. We also change out the tissue paper and muslin cloth annually..

 

 

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Attached is a picture of a roll of acid free tissue paper that we use for various preservation and conservation techniques. This tissue paper comes from an archival business that specializes in museum preservation supplies (GAYLORD). You can also find this type of non-buffered acid free tissue paper at hobby lobby and Anna's Linens...

 

Hanging flags is not recommended since it could cause stress on the fabric and could separate the flag from the halyard and edging if the flag is old. If displaying flags, they should be laid flat and depending on the size of the flag this could present a problem due to obvious reasons with space and flag width/length..

 

For smaller flags such as small Navy ensigns or unit guidons these can be framed and hung, but make sure that the matting used is acid free and also ask if the frame shop uses tape or other methods to mount the flag to prevent slipping when hung. Hobby Lobby uses archival acid free matting boards and other archival techniques to display flags. They also use plexi-glass and other glass that is UV filtered for protection. You can ask the frame folks at hobby lobby what methods they use for preservation and conservation..

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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Thank you so much for all the input!

 

Now I"m stressed that my flags have been stored folded for years.

 

 

Do the flags have to be rolled around a tube or can they just be rolled by themselves?

 

I have quite a few large flags and I don't know if I'll be able to find tubes to fit them.

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Thank you so much for all the input!

 

Now I"m stressed that my flags have been stored folded for years.

 

 

Do the flags have to be rolled around a tube or can they just be rolled by themselves?

 

I have quite a few large flags and I don't know if I'll be able to find tubes to fit them.

 

Their fabric spools are pretty long and should accommodate most of your flags.

 

You'll have to go inside, and they'll be stored where they cut fabric. In the past, they've given me a couple, and on other occasions charge a small fee. It depends which employee/manager you happen to deal with. Good luck.

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Their fabric spools are pretty long and should accommodate most of your flags.

 

You'll have to go inside, and they'll be stored where they cut fabric. In the past, they've given me a couple, and on other occasions charge a small fee. It depends which employee/manager you happen to deal with. Good luck.

 

 

Thanks.

I have some huge flags (probably 15 feet on their shortest end) so I'm guessing these won't work for everything.

 

Is it OK to roll the flag without a cardboard tube?

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Would a wooden dowel, or pvc pipe, or something similar work instead of a cardboard tube? (if anything has to be used)

 

I would think most of those would be OK. As indicated, you might want to layer something between the object and the flag.

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