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I have a few small objects I care about, which I'd like to protect from unfortunate accidents.

Here are their stats

  • small total volume (~24cm^3, more or less "half a glass"), very small weight
  • worthless for anyone but me
  • they also "look" worthless, i.e. it's not obvious that they are important for me, i.e. they might be mistaken for junk
  • made of cloth

I've been keeping in a glass jar for the last ~15 years, and previously I've kept in a tin box (for other ~15 years I guess). This has worked well so far, but I've never had risk factors besides insects and guests.

Being in a glass jar

  • makes it obvious that they are not to be thrown away by passer-bys
  • protects them from insects and dust
  • you see what's inside, you notice it has zero value, so even a random burglar likely wouldn't care (of course he might with to break the glass "just because he likes to destroy stuff", I guess it happens sometimes)
  • it does not protect them from fires and earthquakes

Possible attack vectors

  • Fires
  • Insects
  • Guests
  • Burglars
  • Earthquakes

Feel free to add other attack vectors I didn't think about.

Given that I'll live on a second floor up a hill, I really wouldn't worry about floods, thought I might worry about water (for instance if an apartment at the top of the building catches fire, then water is likely to drop down to the lower floors while they try to extinguish it).

Given the situation, fire/water is then the most likely vector, together with insects, though I'm considering the others too, while I'm at it. This does not imply that fires are frequent here, just that the other attacks are much less frequent.

Requirements

  • it must resist to the "inanimate" attack vectors (especially Fires, better if also Earthquakes)
  • it must resist to insects or other vermins
  • it must make some attempt to resist to people attack vectors (guests, burglars)
  • it should be very easily accessible, no key-codes, combinations, locks, etc. (unless they are a safety lock, which can be opened by people without keys or codes, but that is supposed to stay closed if it crashes or tumbles or something)
  • better if it's transparent
  • better if it's movable (i.e. not embedded in a wall)
  • I shouldn't craft it myself (I'm not good with this sort of thing), but if I can find someone to craft it that's ok (i.e. it shouldn't be something so unusual that I can't easily find someone who crafts it)
  • budget I'd say 100~1000€ (better if it's under 300€)

Observations

Of course, the more the container "looks important", it might increase the resistance towards natural element, but decrease that against burglars, who might think it is precious. If they do, I doubt adding some "ransom" info could help: if you are breaking into my house, then you really don't want to contact me anyway, not for any sum I'd be inclined to spend anyway. Maybe a disclaimer such as "this has no value for anyone besides me, srsly" might work, maybe not.

So, I don't know what a good compromise might be in this area.

  • 1
    @DrMoishePippik If you have an answer, please post it below. Thanks. – Robert Cartaino Jul 27 '15 at 16:50
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You have conflicting needs: For useful fire protection, something like an inexpensive (~20€) fire safe that "withstands temperatures up to 1550° for up to 30 minutes" would be needed, but that makes its contents seem more valuable to thieves.

Any safe that would also deter thieves (~200€) would be an order of magnitude more costly, but if it's movable, a determined thief could take it. (Thieves even will pull apart walls to strip copper wire and pipe.)

The transparency requirement is incompatible with fire protection because heat transmitted by radiation would destroy the contents. You could put a photo of the objects on the container, though. However, if transparency is of prime importance, you could seal the object(s) in fused quartz or, better, sapphire (fused aluminium oxide).

So pick the most important criteria to you and select something that fits.

2

As stated in another answer you are listing conflicting parameters, and need to decide for yourself how important those are when put up against each other. My take on answering your question would be to suggest two different approaches based on different aspects of your requirements.

Bank deposit box

If these items are really precious to you, and you really want to keep them out of harms way, i.e. fire, earth quake, and so on, you should consider renting a bank deposit box. Most other solutions achievable in a home will only tempt burglars and thiefs, be insuperior to the bank box or will put your stuff at some risk with regards to natural hazards.

Plastic boxes

If however you want them accessible, and don't focus on events which really are out of your hands anyway, then storing the items in plastic boxes could be a good solution.

They could be see through, have a simple locking mechanism to keep box shut and water proof, capable of handling falling down, and in general they are quite durable. They are also easily movable in case of emergency.

Plastic box(es) should handle both earth quakes, and water damage from fire elsewhere in building (that is water damage), and attract little attention from the bad guys.

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As others have mentioned you have some needs that are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, which looks something like this:

Completely Secure <--------------------------------> On public display

The fact that these items are made of cloth means that (at least for me), the most eminent threats are going to be pests, moisture/fungus and UV light. The other threats aren't going to be specifically targeting these items, so you should worry about those more holistically, i.e. these are just one more valuable thing in your home.

I think your best bet would be to create a display piece out of them. You can do this by getting some small jars (baby food, if you're crafty, otherwise spend some money on actual jars) to put your bits of cloth in. Then stick a small packet of silica gel in it and hide the packet with your bits of cloth. Depending on what you feel looks best, either do one or multiple jars.

Now get a shadow box with UV glass in it. A shadow box is basically a picture frame that's rather deep. You want one that's deep enough for you to put your glass(es) in. You can get them custom made at most frame shops, or pick out some ready made variety (though it probably won't have UV glass in it already). Stick your jar in the shadow box and put the shadow box on your wall. If your items are something that you want to keep private, hang it in your bedroom. If not, hang it in your living room where it can be a conversation piece.

Being in a shadow box conveys more meaning than it simply being in a jar sitting on the floor - it also gives you the opportunity to put a plaque (even if it's just a print-out) where you can put some information about its importance, e.g. "Scraps of Grandma's Quilt" or whatever. If you've made sure to properly seal the jar, it should keep all kinds of flora and fauna from attacking the cloth, and the newly introduced UV glass will help prevent the sun's rays from fading/degrading the fabric. And the fact that it's in a frame will deter accidental destruction, and allow you to constantly appreciate it.

If you have proper other security precautions against theft, fires, and flood, then you should be able to enjoy your mementos for many more years.

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