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Preserving Memories
12/15/2009
Creative ways to save and share your family history.
Safe Keeping: Old Toys
That old toy chest is filled with a menagerie of materials that are decomposing at different rates. Keeping your ancestors’ (and your own) most treasured playthings in good shape requires different tacks for each type of material.
 
Stuffed toys: Teddy might be filled with anything from horsehair to shredded wood to plastic beads, so it’s likely the insides will wear differently from the outside. Wrap stuffed toys n acid-free tissue or unbleached muslin and store them in a cool, dry place. Keep them clean by gently vacuuming with a brush attachment, and never eat around them—Teddy’s innocent attendance at a tea party could lead to an unpleasant insect infestation. If a stuffed toy springs a leak, mend it with cotton thread to avoid any further loss.
 
Metal toys: Cars, tractors, soldiers and noisemakers could contain aluminum, iron, steel or zinc—or a combination. If the piece is covered in paint, it’s best not to try to clean it. You should always wear white cotton gloves when handling metal toys, because the salts from your skin can cause corrosion. Paint, rubber wheels and plastic parts can make keeping these toys in good shape tough—your best bet is to store the toy in a polyethylene bag, and add a silica gel packet to the archival storage container.
 
Plastic toys: Early plastics are going to deteriorate no matter what you do, so the best course of action is to store the toys, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper, in ventilated archival boxes. Flexible pieces can lose their shape over time, so use supports to keep them from slumping. If you need to clean a vintage plastic toy, use distilled water on a clean sponge. Never use a solvent; it could dissolve the plastic.
 
 
All Dolled Up
Find tips on caring for old dolls in the September 2007 Family Tree Magazine and here.
 
 
Story Saver
Wish you could get your life story down on paper? Priceless Legacy does all the work for you with its personal history packages. A consultant interviews you (or a loved one) and creates a hardbound, full-color book of your history with up to 100 photographs, plus a DVD of the pictures and an audio CD of the interview. The final product comes to you in a keepsake box that future generations will treasure. The LifeStory Package costs $1,299; a couples’ package is $1,899. Learn more here.
 
 
Wedding Trees
Mélangerie Inc.’s family trees aren’t strictly genealogical, but they are genuinely striking. The New York-based design company creates custom wedding genealogy charts that depict the wedding party members’ relationships with each other—a great gift to preserve the history of a relative’s special day. The designs, starting at $475, come in small or large sizes, and can be framed or even printed as place mats. Find out more here.
 
 
Scan Artist
If you’re still trying to figure out a Mother’s Day gift, how about a digital trip down memory lane? ScanDigital scans 35 mm slides and negatives or photo prints, touches up the pictures and returns the originals to you along with a CD or DVD of the digital images. You also get an online gallery of your images, which you can give your family access to. ScanDigital can transfer old film and videotape to DVD, too. Packages start at $89.95 for up to 100 images, or you can opt to pay per item. 
 
 
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