Bagcare and maintenance tips

Yes, it can be tough maintaining your bags well displayed and in tip-top condition. Regular checkups and servicing are required. Here are some tips to keep your bags in fighting trim.

Any more bagcare tips? Send them to me and I'll publicize them on this site!

Bagpacking

You've negotiated a bagtrade. Now comes the tough part: how best to ship your precious bags to your trading partner? Here are some options, in reverse order of advisability:

bulletWrite the address on the bag, stick on a stamp, and drop in the mail.
Not recommended: The writing and stamps reduce the value of the bag as a collectible, and the mail carrier may be tempted to add an attractive bag to his own collection.
bulletFold bag in several places and stuff into small envelope before mailing.
Not recommended: The creases are hard to remove. Try ironing the bag with a damp cloth.
bulletPut bag into envelope just large enough to hold it. Tape firmly all the way round to make sure it can't escape.
Not recommended: Desperate to get at the contents, the recipient may damage the bag while opening the envelope. Best to leave a gap in the tape to allow access without risking damage.
bulletInsert bag into new envelope with sheet of card to prevent folding, then write address in giant letters.
Acceptable. New envelopes are nice if you can afford them, and the card stiffener preserves the contents in mint condition. But the extra weight of card can make mailing expensive, and the giant lettering means the envelope is hard to re-use.
bulletPlace unfolded bag into large, used envelope, stick on address label, then mail.
Recommended: This is the approach I use. Saves on mailing costs, and is in the recycling tradition of bag connoisseurs.
bulletHand delivery. Bring the bag in person to the recipient.
Highly recommended. Don't bring just one bag: bring a boxful to trade. Also enables you to exchange bag stories with the recipient, as well as check out his collection (and perhaps steal a few bags in the process).

Chewing gum in your bag? Help is nigh!

Chewing gum woes

Some ignorant non-collectors appear to think that airlines provide passengers with an individual barfbag for the sole purpose of disposing of masticated chewing gum. They then replace the bag in the seat pocket, in flagrant disregard for the clear instructions on most bags to hand used bags to the cabin crew.

Overworked cleaning staff often fail to detect the gum during their rushed sorties through the cabin, and the bag with its chewing gum load lurks undetected in the seat pocket.

Professional baggists are alert enough to check their swag for foreign bodies before smuggling them off the plane. But their legions of assistants - friends, relatives, office-mates - who also pick up bags and donate them to their friendly neighbourhood baggist, are not so circumspect. They grab the bag, failing to detect its unpleasant contents, and present it proudly to their baggist acquaintance as a trophy of their flight.

The baggist is, of course, far too polite to point out the flaw in the gift, so smiles grimly and adds the bag to his extras collection, vowing to exchange it as soon as possible for that 1945 green blotting-paper Aeroflot bag he has been lusting after for years.

In this way, chewing-gum laden bags enter the bagtrade in disproportionate numbers. Traders welcoming an exchanged bag into their collection are horrified to find a wad of dried latex gumming up their latest prize.

As all parents know, removing gum from a child's hair or clothing is well-nigh impossible. The same goes for prising the noxious wad from the interior of a bag without damaging the surface.

There is a solution, though. Rather than throw away your precious bag - or swapping it with another unsuspecting baggist - just pop it into the freezer overnight. The gum can then be removed easily and without further damage to the bag.

You could try this with your children too if they have gum in their hair. Certainly cheaper than a haircut.

Thanks to veteran collector David Bradford for this tip.

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