Question: I have come into possession of some historic documents, land deeds and related items, that have been in our family for generations. Some of these documents have water damage. Others have slight tears.
I'm considering restoring them, but I've been told that this could entail some risk. How much value would be added to such documents through restoration? I want to weigh the appreciation against the risk.--M.R.
Answer: Most collectors we've talked to over the years on this controversial subject have recommended against risking repairs to documents with historic value.
In dealing with paper, collectors largely look upon slight tears and marks as aging signs that--if the item is indeed valuable--usually won't affect resale value. In short, they say, the risk taken to cosmetically restore a document probably isn't worth the effort.
A notable exception, however, would involve restoration of a rare book where an expert overhaul job can increase the book's value.
A rule of thumb involving paper items: Simply improving appearance, although appealing to the collector, may not be worth the tab in terms of resale value; treating a paper collectible to prolong its life and halt deterioration could be worthwhile.
Modern techniques have been developed to treat tears, creases, dirt marks and the like. But in the final analysis, the documents or collectibles in question should be appraised by an expert before a restoration decision is made.
The All-American Collector's Show, now 17 years old, returns Jan. 23 and 24 to the Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Hours: Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: $4. Among items on dealer tables will be advertising collectibles, toys, political memorabilia and country store stuff. For more information, call (213) 392-6676.
The Southern California Marble Collectors Society will hold a swap meet on Jan. 24 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Northridge Village Clubhouse, 8065 Canby Ave., Reseda. For further information, call Joan Beam at (818) 349-5610. "Anyone wanting to buy, sell or trade marbles is welcome," says a statement in the group's newsletter.
On a related note, the second annual West Coast Marble Convention is scheduled for Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Holiday Inn in Santa Cruz (611 Ocean St.). The show will feature a sale of antique marbles. Admission: $2.50; children 11 and under free. For more information, call Steve Nacamulli at (415) 337-7678.