Care for your records, they are precious and deserve to be looked after. They have survived fifty years – make sure they stay that way. LJC recommends this as the best way to store precious records for maximum protection at minimal cost.
LJC step by step guide
You have bought the record home, washed it with your record cleaning machine, then listened it through both sides for any problems – before deciding if it is a keeper or to send it back . If it’s a keeper, it’s yours, you need to start taking care of it from Day One.
Store any original corporate inner sleeves inside the record jacket, along with any vintage price-stickers you want to keep them (some people keep them as part of the original artefact, others prefer to remove them), Save the obi strip and insert for Japanese pressings. It can be useful to print off and store any Ebay paperwork (original grading and description) if that fits your effort-profile.
Personally, I remove and save any modern record shop stickers (price and shop logo) inside the LP jacket, re-stuck on the interior open edge of the cardboard sleeve, out of sight but available for future reference. (Within a year these stickers can be difficult to remove, and leave a light shadow).These tell me (or my descendants) where it came from and what it cost, without spoiling the precious surface of the cover
From here on, it’s new archival storage, starting with a new set of containers. I keep a stock of these (I buy a 100 at a time).
All you need: a 400 gm polythene outer bag for everything, a paper outer liner, and a mylar anti-static inner bag.
The storage process
It’s good to get a routine together that works for you. For right-handed people like me – start by inverting the record, so it is effectively upside down, in hand.
Slip the upside down record into a new anti-static mylar sleeve. Anti-static mylar sleeves are archival quality – chemically inert for long-term contact with vinyl , unlike some 1960’s polythene-lined paper sleeves, which caused vinyl to “sweat” or caused an irreversible chemical reaction. Now no more paper scuffs to the vinyl surface.
Next, insert the mylar-protected record into a new paper sleeve.The paper sleeve and the record now belong together, clean record in a clean storage environment.
This is a good time to annotate the paper sleeve, across the top, in pencil, with any important information you want to keep, like the price, source, date of purchase, label catalogue number, matrix numbers, etching stamps (RVG), vinyl weight and cleaning solution (W1-IPA). I note the things I need to enter in my collection database without having to extract and re-examine the record. You might want to grade the vinyl (I don’t)
If you don’t record these things at the time it is fresh in mind, I guarantee you will forget them within a couple of months.
Now unite the LP, in mylar, with its new paper sleeve.
Invert the sleeved record so the label is returned to an upright position for normal reading but the edge open to air previously on the right is now on the left side.
Drop the sleeved and lined record down into the open top of a new 400gm polythene jacket. The open liner edge on the left side of the record is now “sealed” against the elements
Turn the polythene jacket around and introduce the LP cover into the top edge of the polythene sleeve which contains the record. Soft polythene is not only protective, unlike rigid glossy plastic it will not in time form a vacuum seal with a laminated cover, becoming “welded” to the artwork and to destroy it if moved.
Hey LJC, isn’t in more convenient to have all the open edges aligned, easier to extract,play, and re-store the record?
One thing people query is why have the open end of the poly-sleeve at the top rather than at the side (like they are in record shops). The answer is quite simple. Assuming you want to be able to read the spine through a closed end of the poly- bag, if you store the record open end at the side, when you pull the record from the shelf you simply end up with an empty polythene jacket in your hand and the record still on the shelf.
With the open-end at the top, the whole thing slides easily out and back in its place on your shelf. Also, the easier the record slides out of its storage, the higher the risk it will accidentally fly out!
Einstein moment! “Accidents only happen to careless, stupid people“. Some people were programmed with this idea in their upbringing, usually because that’s how their parents were programmed (told off) by their parents. Accidents can happen to anyone, we are all clumsy sometimes. Smart people know that, and adopt flexible methods that make allowance for the unexpected.
Stupid people insist it won’t happen because they are smart.
Next step, the cover goes into the front line defence, the 400gm soft poly outer. It protects everything, and it wont stick to the record cover. Bin any stiff acrylic outer cover the record came with.
Takes a few moments, costs a few pennies, but this method
- eliminates risk of harm to vinyl from any debris inside old paper sleeve
- no further cover ringwear – the record is outside in its own protective sleeve.
- Record and cover are sealed and protected against ingress of dust and moisture
- easy retrieval of record and cover as one from shelf storage, spine readable
- easy to read label detail without removing record from sleeve
- safe handling procedure – less risk of record accidentally “flying out of the cover” and skating across the floor
You know it makes sense, but it’s whether you are motivated to do it. All you need to do is to spoil an irreplaceable record once, to remind you why you must.
The other week I had payback for all this effort. I had a stack of ten recent LP acquisitions on a sidetable in my listening room. They had all received the above storage protection. Next to them a full glass of red wine I was enjoying while listening. I have no idea how, but horror of horrors, I managed to tip the glass over, onto the pile of records, red wine over the lot. Hundreds of pounds of irreplaceable records
After carefully mopping up the red wine, one record at a time, I was staggered to find at the end of the process not one record or sleeve had sustained even one drop of damage. The only casualty was one paper sleeve which suffered a trivial few drops of ingress. Realistically the only damage was the loss of one glass of rather pleasant Australian Cabernet Sauvignon.
Think of it as insurance. You never know when or if you will need it. But it is a good plan, and you would be crazy not to protect your investment.
Collectors with access to UK market, I recommend Covers 33 for supply of paper and polythene sleeves. Very efficient next day delivery, very competitive price
The Nagaoka-style mylar anti-static sleeves can be obtained at sensible prices from British Audio Products
Some US collectors swear by rice paper liners, fine, I am sure they are very good, but I happen to like the above products and suppliers.
Coming up next in this practical series: the correct way to tie your shoe laces, and how best to address your fellow passengers in the event of accidentally passing wind in a lift.