In case of very long term storage, what are the ways to make sure that a document remains readable?

I am thinking about a conservation in the order of magnitude of 100 years.

I am interested in responses regarding ink, paper and environment (the former is purely out of curiosity) in the case of printed and hand written document.

Hacks like post processing the paper with plastic or similar things are more than welcomed.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Have a look to this document about archiving instructions for state archives in Geneva municipalities: RECUEIL DE DIRECTIVES POUR L'ARCHIVAGE DANS LES COMMUNES GENEVOISES. On page 10, chapter 6. The paper they use is warranted 1000 years.

The document mentioned above recommands using archival paper conforming to the ISO 11108 norm.

For inks, the document tells that there are several norms, especially ISO 19752 for monochrome laser printers and ISO 19798 for color laser printers.

  • For the future readers, it's a document written in french, the right reference is item 6 before the actual legal content (not a chapter), the key informations are well sumed up by this answer. – AsTeR Aug 6 at 8:48

Parchment made from untanned sheep (or other poor beast) hides stitched together with sinew into a scroll and wound around cypress wood shaft spools lettered with walnut ink have lasted a while (20X your requirement). Store dry and cool but not below freezing.

  • I like the low tech, it makes your answer resilient to apocalypse ;) – AsTeR Aug 6 at 8:49
  • Inks based on iron sulfate (Iron-gall, iron tannate) are the most durable for this medium; the acidity of the ink causes permanent changes in the parchment that allow (with effort) reading the inscription even after erasure and reuse of the sheet. Best alternative is a carbon gum ink, but these can be washed off clean; iron-gall can't. – Zeiss Ikon Aug 9 at 18:23

Be certain to use archival (non acid) paper. Many recommend encapsulating (not laminating). They say that plastic enclosures are safe for documents ONLY if they are made of polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene. Other plastics are not chemically stable and will release damaging acids over time. Especially dangerous is PVC (polyvinylchloride) commonly found in store-bought” binders; it emits hydrochloric acid over time. Of course you want to store in a dry environment and at moderate temperatures - say 60 to 80 F.

  • I agree, "non acid" is an essential criteria. – OuzoPower Sep 12 at 17:21

The new serie of Swiss bank notes is printed on the Durasafe® paper from LandQuart, a company that is specialized in security papers and coatings for banknotes and identity documents. This substrate is described as the world’s most advanced banknote substrate. It is done of cotton paper fused with a polymer core. https://www.landqart.com/products/durasafe/

I can confirm that it is extremely resistant, but they probably won't sell it to you unless you're a government.

This company produces other security papers and coatings for passports, banknotes, a.s.o.

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.