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How to Restore a Vintage Cardboard Box

Much of the value in vintage toys and collectibles is in the packaging. Having a mint-condition package will make your item more desirable to collectors. Often, a package is itself collectible and being able to make repairs to your own vintage cardboard is a handy skill to have. Most simple repairs can be done using ordinary household tools and items you can pick up at your favorite discount store.

Repairing Vintage Boxes

Look the box over carefully for any split corners, scuffs or peeling paper. If an undamaged package of the same type, or pictures of one, are available compare them to see what repairs need to be made to restore your box.

Repair any split corners or seams to make sure the box is sturdy. Use clear athletic tape to patch small splits in corners or flaps. It goes on nearly invisible with a flat finish that will blend into the cardboard. Apply the tape to the inside of the corner or flap to make it less noticeable.

Glue severely split corners using school glue or book binder's glue. Use an L bracket and two clothespins to hold the corner square, then apply a bead of glue to the inside of the corner. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly before removing the clothespins.

Touch up any small tears or peeling paper with a coat of clear nail polish. Pull the paper back into place, then brush on a coat of nail polish. A clothespin or other small clamp may be needed to hold the paper in place as it dries.

Repair larger tears, if the package is all there, with book binder's glue. Use a syringe or toothpick to apply glue under the torn paper. Spread the paper back into place and clamp it down with clothespins until it dries. A light coat of clear nail polish along the top of the repaired tear will help to protect it.

Restoring Vintage Package Art

Take a photo of the box and print it out to use as a map to repair missing art or lettering. On the printed photo draw in any missing details. This will allow you to figure out what needs to be done before making any changes to the package.

Use a coat of liquid paper to cover the torn areas. It will seal the paper and provide a good background for paint or pens.

Draw the outline of any missing artwork in using ultra fine felt tip pens in the appropriate colors. Test colors on your photo copy first.

Use a acrylic paints and artist's brushes to paint the details back in where they are missing. If you are unsure of what is missing, you may want to experiment on your photo first. Colors can be blended to get a match. Allow paint to dry before comparing colors.

Coat the finished repair with clear artist's acrylic from an aerosol can. Use the gloss option that best matches the box. Acrylic spray comes in gloss, semi gloss and matte.

Things You'll Need:

  • Clear athletic tape
  • Elmer's or bookbinder's glue
  • L bracket
  • Clear nail polish
  • Clothespins
  • Digital camera and printer
  • Felt tip pens
  • Acrylic paints
  • Brushes
  • Clear acrylic spray
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