Caring for your collection

Most masks are made to be used and are quite durable. If seriously damaged, they may be repaired, but I would caution against doing it on your own. Even when done by an expert, repairs can lower the mask’s value. Obvious repairs and changes in appearance are strongly discouraged. It is best to just give the item a light cleaning and hang it on the wall as is.

Sometimes masks, especially those from tropical countries, may be infested with insect larva. It doesn’t happen very often, but if you are ever surprised by these unwanted guests, here’s what to do: Put the mask in a freezer for a week, defrost for two weeks, then back in the freezer for another week. An alternate method is to fumigate the items in the fumigation chamber of a local pesticide company. Often the charge is low because they can put it in with a batch of furniture.

Keep both photographic and written records of your mask purchases. Store the pictures on your computer and make a copy for storage someplace else. Photo records are necessary if you ever want to sell or have a mask appraised, or in case of fire or theft. I also use these records for communication with fellow collectors around the world. My photo files are small (72 dpi, 5×7 in) and can be conveniently attached to e-mails.