Packing and Shipping Valuable Antique Items
- Papier Mache Doll


A while ago there was a repainted antique papier mache doll on Ebay with a Buy It Now.  The price was reasonable, it came with an antique body and I love repainting these for some reason.  When they've already been repainted I feel totally justified in doing my own thing with them.  It may stay the same.   Or I might repaint it sometime.  I like the body style.  Anyway, the box arrived in this condition above. I was nervous about that, to be sure.  Papier mache's are breakable. 

The doll was cushioned with newspaper
and the head was wrapped two times in bubble wrap.

It came through fine.

The doll above is not extremely valuable since it's been repainted before.  So it wasn't worth going all out on packaging.  I bought it to study the body and the molded head.  I learn something by holding and repainting these old molded heads.  If it had not been repainted, and had original clothes, it would have been worth it to go the extra mile with packaging.  

When I first started selling on Ebay years ago it was selling antique pottery.   Packing valuable antiques takes care.  I only had one thing broken ever and that was when the mail truck ran over the box.  Packing antiques is challenging, to be sure, and these large items cost a lot to ship.  This item above was inexpensive, so it probably wasn't worth it to go all out on the packaging.  But if you have something special to pack, here's how you do it: 
  1. Start with a sturdy box that doesn't have bends or crushed corners. For valuables, I would start with a new box.
  2. Wrap the breakable item 2 - 3 times in small bubble wrap. 
  3. Wrap the item 1-2 times in large bubble wrap.
  4. Pack the item so that there is at least 3" of cushioning between the item and the outer sides of the box.  You do this by putting a layer of peanuts in the bottom (2.5") and then put a layer of newsprint over that.  This keeps the item from migrating down through the peanuts or cushioning material you've used.    I often do 4 to 5" of cushioning, depending on the item.
  5. Place the object in the box.  Put peanuts/cushioning around the item on the sides to the box.  Not stuffed so tight that it compresses the item, but not so loose that there is any room for the item to move around inside the box. 
  6. Place another layer of newsprint over this layer, and then fill with Peanuts to the top of the box.  Again, not stuffed so tight that it compresses the item, but not so loose that there is any room for the item to move around inside the box.  
  7. If it's an extra special item you now pack that box inside a larger box using the same method that you packed the item.  
  8. Always insure the item when you ship it.  And buy delivery confirmation.  As Robin noted in her comment, it proves that you shipped the item. 
 If you do the above, your packed item can (and probably will) be tossed down flights of stairs without any issues.  In fact, you should assume that your shipped item just might be tossed down a flight of stairs, dropped by a fork lift, kicked by a disgruntled driver, etc.   And then you can rest easy knowing you've done your best.  And you will most likely have a happy customer at the other end. 


Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Awesome tips! And always, ALWAYS insure your package. Because while there might never be damage to the box, there are unscrupulous people in this world who will 'never' receive the package.

My sister learned this the hard way not too long ago, selling and shipping a $700 Steiff bear to a woman who lived in a town so small they had barely a shack as the post office. She 'never' received this.

Now, chances are, she did indeed get this, but upon examining the package, which arrived with no insurance or delivery confirmation/tracking, realized she could say she never got it and it'd be her word against my sisters. My sister had to refund her the money, and she probably also has the bear.

Even so, things DO get lost in the mail. I never take the chance of not being able to prove I mailed it, and always insure against loss or damage. It might cost me an extra $20, but that's nothing compared to having to cough up the sale price of something I've sold, which is generally at least $100.

Allen said...

Good points, Dixie! I often use the "box in box" method for my new work. Better to over do it than deal with a damaged item later.

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden