Antiques, Artifact and Relic Shipping

antique shipping

There is something magical about holding a very old item in your hand and wondering about what it has “seen” over the years. Antiques is a very broad category, covering just about everything ever made up to around 100 years ago. Some items get “antique” status even if they are not that old, like automobiles. Anything from a spoon to a tiara has value to someone, and in general, the things you own have the most value to you. You may need to ship an antique that has been in the family for years, or bring a new acquisition home. Many of our clients are professionals…curators, auctioneers, and dealers. No matter what it is, Pack and Post has the expertise to ship it safely and securely.

If you are in need of packing and shipping services for an antique, you can get a quick, accurate shipping quote right now by calling Pack and Post at 855.322.9684, or you can use our handy form. You can even email us a picture of any particularly large or unusual piece, to give us a good idea of the exact nature of your needs. Give us the general age and origin, if you know them, too. We can recommend and estimate hand packing, custom crating, and special transportation options. We will get you an accurate shipping quote within 24 hours.

Antiques are a vast array of items, and every field has its specialists and collectors. Insuring antique and vintage items is very important, and must be based on the fair market value and also the replacement value. In some cases, the replacement value is meaningless, if no other extant examples of a piece or period exist. Some pieces are very scarce. There may be no others changing hands on the market for years, so no comparisons can be drawn. Even if other examples are sitting in a museum, their value is still likely to change over time as trends come and go, and as other examples are either discovered or, in some cases, lost forever in storms or catastrophes. Additionally, antique values are particularly subject to supply and demand. Sometimes even if an item is rare, there may be no demand at all. In other cases, antiques which were once considered very desirable have fallen out of fashion with new generations of collectors. Some antiques that were once seen as valuable are not today, such as Singer sewing machines and some Hummel figurines. Internet trade has had a major impact on antique evaluation, as more and more people climb into their attics and bring out things which were once thought to be scarce. If you are unsure of the exact value of an item, we can provide you with professional appraisers who are fully certified, are specialists in their fields, have access to thousands of auction records, and can provide accurate documentation that will stand up to insurance or legal investigation.


best antique shipping company

Almost everyone today has watched Antiques Roadshow, or seen a movie where a museum is receiving a precious object in a huge wooden crate. Antiques are moving all around us all the time. Sadly, not all of them make it to their destinations intact. A bunch of wadded up paper or some packing peanuts are not always the thing required by a fragile glass bottle or a 400-year-old bookcase. Even items made from metal can be subject to oxidation, and paper can have acid reactions and turn brown in the wrong environment. The wide world of cool things that have survived 100, 200, or 800 years is vast, and very enjoyable to explore. We are glad to help you with your antique needs to be sure the heartbreak of a lost “find” does not haunt you.


Furniture is the strongest part of the antique market, because it is often passed down through families for its functional nature. Furniture made by hand is subject to all kinds of vulnerability based on its weight and construction. Were nails, screws, or pins used? Are joints dovetailed? No matter how it fits together, it can come apart under duress. Pack and Post has the skill and staff to be sure that does not happen.

  • Chairs, sofas, couches, stools, and rockers
  • Beds, settees, divans
  • Bookcases, shelves, display cabinets,
  • Side tables, end tables, dining tables, wing tables, gate-leg tables, flip top tables
  • Escritoires, library desks, partners desks
  • Childrens furniture such as cradles, doll beds, highchairs, and child-sized beds
  • Mirrors, Hall trees, hat racks, stick stands, umbrella stands, benches
  • Churns, bread boxes, candlesticks, brass ware, and other household items

Toys and Playthings

Many of the trappings of childhood are carried into old age for sentimental reasons and then passed on. The toys and sport equipment of youth takes a beating when children are young, so good examples that survive can be very exciting to find and collect.

  • Dolls, Bears, Stuffed Animals
  • Trains, Trucks, Wagons
  • China sets, Doll Houses
  • Toy guns and soldiers, piggy banks
  • Sporting balls, racquets, uniforms
  • Clockwork toys, rag dolls, corn dollies
  • Board games and paper-dolls

Military Antiques

As long as there have been people, there have been conflicts. These are long-remembered when other things are forgotten, and the items from them are treasured and saved.

  • Knives, swords, and Armor
  • Guns, Cannon, and Firearms
  • Uniforms and Medals
  • Military issue field equipment like canteens, tents, rucksacks, lanterns
  • Military transportation, nautical items, maps, saddlery

Fine Arts and Jewelry

Fine arts and jewelry have high value at any time, but age adds to that value considerably. If your fine art is over 100 years old, we can make sure it remains in great condition.

  • Paintings and Drawings
  • Etchings, Prints and Posters
  • Sculpture and Carvings
  • Tiaras, crowns, watches, hats
  • Rings, bracelets, Necklaces, Brooches, and Earrings

Historical Items

Some items are not quite in the category of collectible or antique, because they are common items with not much artistic or craftsmanship value, but because they represent a specific point in time, they have value to museums and universities and those studying specific cultures. This is the sort of thing that may be excavated from a midden heap, or found during a big construction project in an old city.

  • Old building materials like bricks or handmade nails, Household goods
  • Common items like bowls and knives that are extremely aged or from specific cultures
  • Early example of textiles and weaving
  • Early examples of written and printed word
  • Primitive items like early tools or old bullets from battlefields

Artifacts, Relics, Antiquities

Sometimes we are asked to handle things that are more than “antiques”. Collectors, museums, universities, and occasionally a private party will need help moving items that are very old indeed, and which need extremely special care and housing.

  • Relics such as skulls, holy writings, holy instruments and trappings
  • Items from ancient civilizations, such as amphora, statues, casks, bronzes, marbles
  • Items such as shards and dug pottery, items discovered through archeology
  • PreColumbian items that have survived, such as baskets, blankets, carvings, and bones
  • Remains such as mummies, tomb treasure, canoptic jars, vases, stone tools
  • Services

    • White Glove Service

      This is the same level of care we use for museums. Extreme archival care which considered chemical reactions and other ways precious items can be harmed.
    • Expedited Service

      In some cases, you may want your antique item packed and moved quickly. This can be crucial if an agency like a museum, auction house, or national antique show is involved. We will provide overnight and other expedited shipping.
    • Custom containment

      Antiques are uniquely vulnerable to damage, and need extra care. Even relatively hardy pieces, such as stone carvings or old kitchenware, require protection. We custom build crates from corrugated cardboard or wood, with double-walls or reinforced padding, to suit any item. We have a variety of padding materials, including acid-free paper. If an item needs controlled humidity or temperature, we can allow for that.
    • Any location or method

      Same Day, Overnight, Ground, Air, Rail, and Ocean – whether you need domestic or international shipping, we will have options so you can select the best one for the requirements of your piece.
    • Full service

      We provide full retrieval and delivery from and to any location. We can come to your museum, antique mall, or home and pack an item almost in situ to minimize the risk of damage. We can unpack and install at the destination, and take away any packing debris.
    • Documentation

      We can provide full documentation and create a clear record for insurance, tax, or legal purposes. This is especially important if you are using a shipping method with multiple legs, such as truck to ship to shore to truck. If the piece is being moved internationally, we can assist with customs. Antiques and antiquities often need a stronger paper trail than other items because of their value and fragile nature.

    Tips for Shipping Antiques and Antiquities

    Understand the Needs of the Piece

    Although many of us appreciate antiques, sometimes only artisans and conservators know the requirements of a piece to stay intact and in good condition. For example, much fine furniture was made of wood and the wood was not treated or sealed, as it would be today. That means it is vulnerable to humidity and may be brittle with age. While today’s household glass is sturdy, old glass was made with different formulas and can shatter easily. Extremely old textiles can be degraded and weakened by exposure to air or light. If you are not 100% sure of the nature of your valuable piece, Pack and Post can help through evaluation and assessment to determine what its special needs and weaknesses may be.

    Give Concise Dimensions and Measurements

    Be sure to give us precise measurements. If an antique rood screen is 14′ tall and 24′ long, it will need a much larger container to allow for padding, bracing material, and stability. We can help calculate and estimate that for you, but getting the details helps things run smoothly. Estimating the shipping weight of some pieces can be a challenge, and using a moving weight estimator can help. Weight Estimator this will allow you to give us a good idea of what you need. If you want assistance, give us a call any time; also, let us know if the weight you provide is an estimate and how you arrived at it. Knowing the exact dimensions of your antique or relic allows us to give you the best packing and shipping quote up front. Sometimes an inch in size can mean a different vehicle or kind of crating will be needed for shipping a piece.

    Consider Your Shipping Goals

    If you need a piece to arrive at a museum overnight, one service may be better than another. The kind of antique you are shipping makes a difference, too. For example, extremely large trucks that can carry a 14′ tall chimney piece with a built-in mantle mirror may not always gain access to residential locations. Be aware of the needs of your antique and its materials, since some can suffer from changes in temperature or humidity. Some items need special care if they will be making an extreme change in altitude. Some may require partial dis-assembly to fit through doorways. Giving us all the information up front allows us to come up with a good plan.

    Learn the Costs

    Extremely old, fragile, and vulnerable items with high value, or a value that is more or less considered “priceless” can require all kinds of special packing and stability measures. For example, a papyrus scroll might need to be shipped in a vacuum with controlled temperature and with a minimum of vibration. That could add to the base cost of transportation. We will be glad to help you understand the details of any quote we provide.

    Obtain Insurance

    Antiques, artifacts, and relics are the most difficult things to restore or repair. Restoration and conservation specialists exist, but can be very expensive. For many items, there is replacement. If there is any mishap in transportation, such as a hurricane or earthquake, you want to be prepared. Make sure you have an adequate insurance based on not just fair market value but also the expense of replacement or restoration. A professional appraiser can help and may provide extra services such as filming or photographing your item from every angle, using a magnifying lens when needed. Writing down the provenance, or history, of the piece will help you in working with any insurer. Some shipping carriers have coverage limits, and in some cases you may want additional insurance for a special item. Understanding the value of your piece is important in making insurance decisions. Having professionals help can be useful, and Pack and Post can provide help. Although it is unlikely that anything will go wrong with your shipment of an antique or relic, it is wise to be covered, just in case.

    Know the Rules

    Antiques, relics, and antiquities are often at the center of international disputes about ownership and levies, especially if the item in question has ethnographic or cultural significance. For this reason, these are often under heavier scrutiny that other items. Be aware of restrictions and regulations that may affect shipping if your piece is going to cross state lines or go to an international destination. Each country will have their own specific export, import, and customs regulations. Duties, taxes, and other fees will also vary depending on the locations involved. You will be asked to provide the country of origin of any piece as well as declare its value and describe it in some detail. Even though we live in a modern world with a global economy, there are still borders and touring museum exhibitions are subject to extreme paperwork and investigation. Additional security must often be supplied.

    Clear Communication

    Because of the special needs of different kinds of old, fine pieces, it’s important for everyone involved in a shipment to be aware of the piece and its schedule. For example, if it is being delivered to a museum or auction house, the staff and security guards will need to be aware of the arrival and be ready to receive it. Someone may be required to inspect the item on its arrival to verify its condition. Let both your shipping carrier and broker know about special requirements up front, and be sure to give them ample contact information, such as cell phone numbers, email, and land line options for all the parties involved. We can help coordinate this with you.

    Types of Shipping Companies for Antiques and Ancient Items


    Antiques are generally categorized under the heading of “household goods” by freight companies and couriers. However, very small items may be considered “overnight express”, and mid-sized items, depending on their packaging, could be considered “parcel” freight. Shipping with a freight line can be LTL, which means less-than-truckload, indicating that your item will share transport with other items, and may stop at different warehouses and locations along the way, and may be moved from one truck or trailer multiple times. You will also hear about truckload freight, which means you have a truck dedicated only to your item and it will go straight from the point of origin to the destination. Air Freight moves more quickly than standard freight, but does not necessarily mean it is flown in an aircraft.

    Blanket Wrap

    A blanket wrap carrier will wrap each item by hand. Any flaws or damage will be noticed immediately, rather than in the case of a package or crate, where it may not be seen until an item is opened. Blanket wrap generally has lower labor costs, and is environmentally friendly, since blankets and equipment are re-used. This is a good option when antiques are involved.

    Van Lines

    Van lines usually use actual vans or trucks which are designed for carrying specific kinds of cargo, but may also employ shipping containers. These will offer packing and crating, but sometimes also allow you the option of doing the packing yourself, although this is more risky. Vans often have special fixtures for handling large and tall pieces and crates securely, padded walls, and come with specialized equipment for moving heavy and awkward objects. You may also need a climate-controlled van if weather is extreme or if the artwork is sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity, or elevation.

    Air, Rail, and Marine Cargo

    Sometimes you may want to use one of these options for moving your items. Aircraft will provide a swift ride that is usually smooth with a minimum of bumping around, but it subjects the piece to changes in air temperature and pressure. Rail can be fast or slow, and is usually a smooth ride, but may have air pressure, temperature, and humidity challenges, depending on the route. Marine shipping is not extremely swift, and is usually a smooth ride, but there can be concerns with temperature and shifting on rough seas. All of these will require secondary transport from the dock or airport or station to the shipment’s final destination. In every case, there will be an ideal solution, and Pack and Post can help you find it.


    One of the most important concerns with antiques and older pieces is their fragile nature. Although they have survived for many years, they are not hardy, and may incur damage from sudden shifts and even mild pressure. Depending on the piece, there are a variety of methods for securing cargo besides bungee cords. Some carriers will use nylon or steel strapping. Blocks of wood or foam may be used to brace an item to prevent slippage. In some cases, a cargo crate will be suspended above the floor of a van or truck. Synthetic or polyester webbing may be used, and there are even dunnage bags, which are airbags that inflate to hold securely and can be deflated to gently release an item. Plastic wrap may be needed as a moisture barrier or to gently hold sliding drawers in place. Method of transport will also dictate how rough or smooth a ride is. In any case, if your item is precious to you, we can make you aware of all the options available and help you choose the right one.

    Since Pack and Post is a professional shipping brokerage, we have access to every kind of carrier in the business. We take your information and then look at the big picture with a complete understanding of what is required regarding the shipping of your antique. Most importantly, we are experienced in handling old, ancient, and fragile items of all types and sizes, and coordinating the entire project from start to finish.

    Pack and Post has over 28 years of experience, and all the tools for every job. We are glad to help organize the relocation of your fine antique or rare relic. You can relax, confident that every element of the packing, shipping, and even the unpacking and installation at the destination will be considered and allowed for. Call now at 855.322.9684 or use our convenient form for an accurate, rapid, personalized quote! Our experience has led us to understand that there are no simple answers to shipping precious items; each project is unique and requires personal attention and keen focus on all the details.