were alerted about an impending hazard for poster collectors who
ship any type of posters through the US Post Office.
of the terrorist problems, the Post Office has adopted and is in
the process of implementing a system called 'Electron Irradiation'
of mail being shipped.
process is used to eliminate germs etc. in large quantities of mail
at a time.
From what we have been able to gather, this will primarily be done
in the major facilities that handle the largest amounts of bulk,
which makes sense.
Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education put out
an early examination report on the results.
state "the irradiated mail exhibits
definite yellowing.." and go on to state, "The
color shift is not necessarily immediate and can occur over time.
This indicates that the initial irradiation induces the formation
of unstable intermediates, such as peroxides, that continue to
breakdown after the irradiation process is over."
other words, the damage caused by this process is on-going, and
will continue long after the material is out of "harms way".
though they make the statement, "Common
inks present on irradiated papers do not seem to change color although
the study is still ongoing.".
Posters do not contain many 'common inks'.
section of the report states,
"Analyses of the soluble material
in irradiated and unirradiated
samples of the same paper show an increase in the amounts of degradation
products. The distribution of
products is very different from that seen in naturally aged materials.
The amount of glucose, specifically, is not
greatly increased. This shows that the damage is due to reactions
other than hydrolysis, which is the primary
reaction during the natural aging of cellulose. The relatively small
amounts of soluble degradation products
probably do not account for the large loss of strength observed,
indicating that the changes are most likely due
to radiation induced crosslinking."
have been told that studies like this are being used to adjust and
modify the usage of the system.
have also been told from several different people but have NOT been
able to confirm... that it increases the disintegration of paper
approximately 10 TIMES THE NORMAL RATE. AND WHAT'S WORSE IS THAT
IT'S IRREVERSIBLE. We've also been told that it could even be more
hazardous to linen backing.
of the major problems is that it's extremely difficult to get precise
information about how, when and where, they are going to utilize
it. This is completely understandable from the standpoint of National
Security, but should cause concern to any collector that ships any
poster of value.
are in the process of gathering information from a variety of directions
but felt that this would be important enough that we wanted to alert
everyone about what was going on.
some other preliminary info that we've acquired.
is supposedly looking at the same procedure for installation at
their major facilities
has said that they don't have any plans to install such a program
because their systems are completely different. They made an indication
that they were going to do something but wouldn't give any more
info at this time.
to a press release issued by the USPS, NOT ALL MAIL will be subjected
to this process. However, there is no way to determine what mail
will be put through this process. Needless to say, the USPS WILL
NOT GIVE ANY SPECIFICS -- for obvious reasons.
course, there's a lot more that needs to be evaluated as the Post
Office tries to implement the system. But we felt the need to alert
anyone that ships posters regularly without trying to cause a panic.
It would be worth the time to look at shipping alternatives.
plan to continue to press for more information and will be posting
updates as we receive them.
thanks to the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education
American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
(AIC) for their information.
**and a special thanks to John Davis, President and CEO of POSTER
Inc. (poster conservator for the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, Universal Studios Archive and M.G.M.) for his alert
and help in presenting this information.
AND OTHER REPORTS
some reason, these reports have NOT reached the public. Thank goodness
John Davis alerted us to the installation of this equipment.
REPORT - 2/02
REPORT - 11/01
Post Office hasn't put out an official notice since this one.
BULLETIN - 12/4/01
BULLETIN - 10/29/01
BULLETIN - 10/27/01