Through conservation keyhole: Before Christmas say a little thank you to…

It doesn’t look very exciting – archive cardboard box.

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The cardboard box is crucial to our daily working in Archive. The Preservation Unit in Archive is routinely packaging a large number of archive records.  Our enclosures range from simple four flaps folders to more complex phase boxes, and special collection clamshell or drop-spine boxes are made from a variety of corrugated board. This high quality multi-use board is blue or grey on one side and white on the other. The cardboard boxes are the one of the simplest ways to pack, repack or move records from one place to another.  Boxes help collect many quantities of documents into one limited space for easy handling.

 

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Wooden crates, metal cases, cotton or paper bags were the predominant means for moving materials prior to the invention of the cardboard box. Those packaging materials were expensive and hard to replicate on a grand scale though.

 

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Packaging to foldable cardboard box, instead of paper, revolutionized many transport and food companies. An interesting fact is that the first pre-cut cardboard box (from flat piece of cardboard into a box) was invented in 1870 by the Scottish-born Robert Gair. He discovered that by cutting and creasing in one operation he could make prefabricated paper boxes. Gair’s invention came about as a result of an accident: he was a Brooklyn printer and paper-bag maker, and one day, while he was printing an order of seed bags, a metal ruler normally used to crease bags shifted in position and cut them. He quickly became the leader of the new paper box industry, enabling the world’s first packaged food products to turn up on the shelves of overall stores.

 

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Before Christmas, while you are wrapping Christmas presents, please think about your gift box and say a little thank you to the ingenious Scotsman.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

 



Categories: Archive Services, Library, Special Collections

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