White Glove Delivery, Please! But hold the gloves...

The phrase “white glove” delivery is ubiquitous in the art world - after all, it is one of the services that we pride ourselves on with our experienced fine art handlers and technicians. All across the globe, we can handle even the most complicated of deliveries (fifth floor delivery with no elevator? No problem!). Although the phrase is used broadly, it is important to know when it is actually not appropriate to wear white gloves when handling art.

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To start with the positives: it is important to wear gloves when handling paintings, photographs, metal objects, or mixed-media works as the gloves prevent you from transferring oils and dirt from your hands to the materials.

Gloves should also be worn whenever handling antique globes.  If you ever want a clue about the history of where a particular globe has been over the past few hundred years, see if you can notice where the varnished surface has rubbed - it is mostly likely where the previous owners and friends have physically pointed to indicate where “home” is.

But when it comes to the following objects, it is best to avoid wearing gloves.

Ceramics and glass

Using bare hands is better when handling these fragile objects as you can ensure you get a firm grip.  An exception to this general guideline are ceramics with gilding or overglaze decoration.  In this instance rubber gripped gloves can be used. For all ceramics and glass, a soft, padded surface should be placed underneath to provide additional protection.

Textiles

Textiles are tricky: the fine threads and embellishments on a variety of textiles can catch on cotton gloves or on bare hands, so it is best to wear vinyl, nitrile, or latex gloves (even if it does not look as sophisticated).

Books and works on paper

When handling books, wearing gloves actually reduces your sensitivity to the pages, making it more likely that you could rip or dislodge the pages. Gloves can also cause pigments and inks to lift from the page if mishandled, making it best to handle these works with bare hands. All of this goes without saying that you should ensure your hands are clean and dry prior to handling any artwork, either with or without gloves.

The next time your Convelio shipment of a rare book is delivered, please remember that the safe handling carried out by a white glove delivery may require no gloves at all: we are adhering to best practices to protect your art!

March 21, 2021

May Geolot