label paper

Carla Kishinami carlak at BISHOP.BISHOP.HAWAII.ORG
Tue Jan 24 12:42:30 CST 1995

In reply to request from Stephen Ross and Todd Slack for alternative
sources for museum label paper.

There are two products I know of that could be considered by those going
through Resistal withdrawal:  Tyvek and Forbon.

The Ichthyology and Vertebrate Zoology collections at Bishop Museum have
used Forbon 10VF Tagstock for over 25 years.  This is an exceedingly
tough paper, suitable for rough field conditions and holds up excellently
in wet or dry storage.  Personally, I have never liked Resistal because it
compared so poorly with the Forbon in wet strength.

In 1987 I wrote to the manufacturer, Dennison Manufacturing Co., in
Massachusetts and asked what exactly went into the manufacture of
Forbon.  This was the reply:

"Forbon 10VF Tagstock is a vulcanized fibre containing only cellulose and
titanium dioxide.  The titanium dioxide is added as an opacifier and
whitener.  This stock contains no other additives, such as rosin or other
sizes.  It contains no plastic fibres or "plastic infusion".

Vulcanized fibre is made from cotton or alpha wood cellulose in a process
whereby the surface of the cellulosic fibres are gelatinized with zinc
chloride, which converts the fibres into a colloidal semifibrous mass.
The zinc chloride is thoroughly removed by leaching, and the sheet is thus
converted into a hard, tough, dense, waterproof product."

Their reponse to my subsequent question as to why our conservation lab
got a positive alum test from the paper:

"Elemental analysis of the Forbon 10VF stock indicates residual amounts of
zinc and chloride, undoubtedly left from the vulcanization process.  While
not present in large concentrations, it is this component which makes the
sheet slightly acidic (pH= 6.2) and which provides a positive alum test."

The paper is not perfect, but it is very good.  It meets the criteria of
strength, durability, and ink retention.  There is nothing very
objectionable in the materials used to manufacture Forbon.  The residual
salts are not a problem in dry situations, and probably a good deal washes
out in the various rinses most wet preserved specimens are subjected to.
It can be written on and used in a dot matrix printer, but is probably too
stiff for laser printers.  It is available through
University Products, Inc.
P.O. Box 101
517 Main St.
Holyoke, MA   01041-0101
1-800-762-1165 or (413) 532-9431

Tyvek is a spunbonded polyethylene.  It's very strong, comes in different
weights, and takes ink well.  There is a printing handbook available from
DuPont that will give guidance as to what printers and inks to use.  They
also have staff available to advise.  IT WILL MELT IN SOME LASER PRINTERS
so be careful.  The long term durability of this polyethylene "paper" in
alcohol is uncertain but it has been used for some time at the Museo
Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid.  See:

Gisbert, Palacios and Garcia-Perea, 1990, Labeling vertebrate collections
with Tyvek synthetic paper, Collection Forum (6) 1:35-37


Gisbert, Garcia-Perea and Palacios, 1992, Durable specimen labels, Storage of
natural history collections:  ideas and practical solutions, Rose and de
Torres eds.

Manufacturer is E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company
1000 Market St.
Wilmington, DE  19898
For specific product information and local suppliers of Tyvek call (800)

CARLA H KISHINAMI                       carlak at
VERTEBRATE ZOOLOGY                      phone: (808) 848-4198
BISHOP MUSEUM                           Fax:   (808) 841-8968
P.O. BOX 19000A
HONOLULU, HI    96817-0916

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