While standing in a checkout line a few days before Christmas, I heard a man tell the cashier about a recent dilemma. A purchased item from the store had failed, and when he returned for a refund, he discovered the ink on the receipt had vanished. The man was surprised by the blank piece of paper because the item was only a few months old, but the employee wasn't shocked. The ink this particular store uses to print receipts fades quickly; it was common knowledge among employees.
Fortunately for this man, the back of the receipt still contained the store's logo, and he was able to return the item. Everyone may not be this fortunate. I wonder what will happen in three months time if someone tries to return an item purchased as a Christmas gift. Will the ink be legible for a refund or exchange? Or, like an ancestor's letter exposed to too much sunlight, will it have faded, leaving consumers with faulty family tree programs, dysfunctional computers and useless printers?
What can we do to safeguard our purchases against retailers who can only gain by using vanishing ink on receipts that are just as useless as lost receipts? The solution might be to photocopy it at the first opportunity. Most of us would need only do this for major purchases, but those who run a business will need to photocopy every receipt required for income tax purposes.
All this disappearing ink brings us to another important document we might consider photocopying the obituary. Actually, every important newspaper clipping should be photocopied on acid-free paper or card stock and/or scanned and saved as a digital image. Newsprint paper deteriorates quickly, becoming brittle and yellow because it contains both lignin and acid. The process is slowed by storing the newspaper clipping at room temperature in a dry, dark location.
Newspaper clippings can be laminated, but this doesn't solve all the problems. This process traps the chemicals inside, so the paper will still turn yellow and become brittle. The advantages are the paper remains together and safeguards other paper documents from the leaching acid.
Another option to help preserve newspaper print is to use a de-acidification spray or solution, which neutralizes the acid. The paper is still fragile, but it better withstands the passage of time.
Newspaper clippings should be stored separately, perhaps in individual pockets or envelopes or between acid-free tissue paper. This eliminates or reduces damage to other paper items stored in the same box, scrapbook or album. If at all possible, keep the paper flat, unfolded. If a fold must be made, make it on a place that doesn't contain vital information as it might become unreadable over time.
The enemies of the printed word are sun (indirect and direct), water, dampness, mould, fire, extreme cold and hot temperatures and unwanted visitors (such as squirrels.) Although our paper documents may not last as long as the hieroglyphics on the pyramids, if we take care now, they should last for 100 years or more.
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