The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 15
Jul 1978


Evolution of Permanent/Durable Boxes

As reported in the last issue of this Newsletter, the importance of buffering to ensure permanence of paper and boxes has only very recently been recognized The two main governmental agencies that set manufacturing standards for paper and boxes, the General Services Administration and the Library of Congress, have raised their standards several times in response. The Hollinger Corporation, essentially a specialized box factory and a major supplier of document containers, met these standards by seeking out a small paper mill that would make acid-free paper and board to their specifications.

There have been 4 different types of boxes produced over the years by Hollinger, meeting 4 different sets of specifications as they evolved. They can be recognized by their color.

  1. Grey outside, brown inside: made from 1950 to 1968 or so. The GSA, which is the federal government's "purchasing department", set specifications only for size, strength and thickness.
  2. Grey outside, dull red inside: 1968 to 1970 or so. The GSA specified a pH of 6.5 but did not require buffering.
  3. Grey coating on outside, brown inside. The GSA specified a pH between 6.5 and 8. Hollinger went them one better, switching from alum-rosin sizing to Aquapel, introducing a trace of buffering, and using as high a pH as the GSA would permit.
  4. Grey paper on outside, white inside: 1977-78. The Library of Congress specifies a pH of 8.5 or higher, at least 3% alkaline reserve (calcium carbonate) and an alkaline sizing such as Aquapel.

Hollinger sells large or small amounts of paper and board to individuals and often shows visitors through its plant at 3810 S. Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington, VA 22206.

Other box and paper companies that advertise in The American Archivist are:

Pohlig Bros., Inc.
25th and Franklin Streets
Richmond, VA 23223

Process Materials Corp.
329 Veterans Blvd.
Carlstadt, NJ 02072

The Paige Co.
432 Park Ave. South
New York, NY 10016

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