Finding a nick, scratch or dent in a common business or household item that you’ve shipped can be irritating. Finding damage of any kind to a work of art or antique that you’ve shipped can have serious financial consequences.

Consequently, any organization or individual that has valuable items to ship—businesses, galleries, museums, homeowners—should know how to help ensure that the asset makes it to its destination in exactly the same shape it was in before it was transported.

And it should be noted that “value” is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. A family heirloom that means the world to you is just as “valuable” and deserving of proper handling as a high-priced oil painting by a renowned master!

Take These Steps When Shipping Valuable Items

Below are eight steps that should be taken when art or antiques are shipped. You might choose to complete them yourself, or you might choose to entrust some of them to a custom packaging, crating and shipping company. Either way, it’s important that all of the steps are addressed.

  1. Carefully clean the item. Not only can a layer of dust, dirt or other loose material obscure existing damage, it may make it more difficult to fully secure the item when it is packaged.
  2. Optionally get an appraisal. If you’re unsure about the value of your artwork or antique, you may want to get a professional opinion about its worth before you ship it.
  3. Do a thorough inspection and repairs. You want to check for existing damage, but should also look for anything that might increase the risk of damage while the item is being transported—things like loose or missing pieces that reduce the structural integrity of the item. If possible, correct these issues before you ship the item.
  4. Take detailed measurements. It’s important to know the accurate length, width, height and depth of any piece of art or antique you’re shipping. Those measurements will be needed when you select a box or crate.
  5. Select a box or crate in which to package your item. This is the point where many people turn to a specialty crating, packaging and shipping company for assistance. Especially in the case of items that might be hard to secure within a container, a company like Craters & Freighters that employs trained packaging engineers can develop a custom packaging, blocking and bracing strategy that holds the item securely within a tailor-made crate.
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  7. Package and secure the item. Keep in mind that simply putting an artwork or antique into a box and filling the empty space with packing peanuts isn’t a strategy that will necessarily ensure a safe trip for your item. Here again, a shipping company experienced in handling valuable art and antiques can provide important insight or assistance. For example, they can provide or recommend specialized cushioning to absorb the forces generated when containers are handled and transported. The company can also make recommendations about packaging to address an item’s unique needs. For instance, anti-static packaging can help protect electrical items, vapor barrier may be needed for ocean transport or shipping to locations with high humidity, and heat shrink wrapping is a good way to secure and protect certain types of items.
  8. Arrange for cargo insurance if needed. Shipping companies cannot, of course, control every aspect of a container’s journey from origin to destination. Things like road conditions, the actions of other drivers, air or ocean turbulence, etc. can always be a factor. Consequently, even the most carefully packaged, crated and handled items can be damaged in transit. Cargo insurance can help protect you financially if an item is damaged, lost or stolen. Options include standard cargo insurance, job service order (JSO) insurance, limited liability (or “lost only”) insurance, and used electronics & machinery insurance.
  9. Hand off your container to the shipping company. In providing your packaged and crated artwork or antique to a shipping company, you should explain to them that the item inside—no matter how carefully secured—requires special handling due to its value, fragility, etc.

art crating

How to Choose a Specialty Crating, Packaging and Shipping Company

Selecting the right specialty crating, packaging and shipping company can make all the difference in how your artwork or antique is handled. Most shipping companies can say that they have “shipped art and antiques.” However, you want to work with a company like Craters & Freighters that has extensive experience and expertise in this area.

Guided by our packaging engineers, our skilled team approaches each project with the focus and care needed to property crate, package and transport items to ensure that they arrive at their destination in as-shipped condition. As our photo gallery shows, no two projects are the same, and every packaging solution we develop is unique.

The companies, art galleries, collectors, antique dealers, auction houses and other organizations and individuals we work with also find it helpful that we have 65+ brick-and-mortar locations around the country. This enables us to provide assistance both in the shipping and receiving of art and antiques. And for overseas shipments, we have a trusted global network of connections that we collaborate with to get shipments into and out of countries around the world—including through customs—efficiently and without delay.

Protecting Your Investment in Art and Antiques by Using a Specialty Shipping Company

Some people choose to handle the crating, packaging and shipping of their art and antiques themselves, believing that working with a shipping company will be too complicated or costly. Then, when a shipment is damaged or lost, they find that the associated costs are much higher in the long run.

art sculpture crating

At Craters & Freighters, we work as your “project manager” on any shipping project, handling all the details and dealing with any issues that arise. That means you can focus on other tasks, confident that your shipment will be well cared for. We also provide free cost estimates. All you have to do to get a quote is provide some basic details about the project. With the figure we provide in hand, you can decide whether to tackle the project yourself or put your valuable item in the very capable hands of our crating and shipping professionals.