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Tuesday, 23 June 2020


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The boxes at the top of the story are "NOMAD" boxes by the firm of the same name, out of the UK

Can recommend


I have several of those shipping containers in various sizes. For years I used them to ship prints to shows across the country and overseas. As you mentioned, they are good for storing and transporting prints and other valuable items. But, the last time I tried to ship prints in one, UPS didn't want to accept it. They don't like the straps, I guess. I think Fed-X also has a problem with them. And I seem to recall getting the stink eye at the post office too.

In recent times I've been doing something like what you described, but not quite. I use two sheets of foamcore. I can buy a 20x30 sheet for about $2. I cut it in half and use that to ship a 13x19 print. I put the print in a plastic sleeve and tape the sleeve centered on one of the foamcore sheets. I put the two sheets together with the print in the middle and use clear packing tape to tape all around the edges, plus a lap around the outside in each direction. I just write the address info directly on the foamcore with a sharpie.

I've used this for quite a few shows for several years and have not had a single instance of damage. (Fingers crossed)

Pet peeve: prints ROLLED into a shipping tube.

The obvious way to ship medium to large prints is rolled in a tube (or at least in triangle boxes, still rolled). From your writing and Ctein's (and practice, in both cases) about shipping prints, avoiding tubes pretty assiduously, I assume there are some fairly serious drawbacks? (At some point, for operations below museum scale prints just get too big to consider shipping flat, though, don't they?)

I know about the print acquiring a semi-permanent curvature. I can also imagine careless rolling scuffing the surface. Are those the main problems, are they bigger than I think? Or, as usual—what am I missing?

If you’re just mailing to friends and family a good source of free corrugated cardboard is your local warehouse liquor store. The boxes have been used once so they are clean and you can typically find them stacked near the register. There is a never ending supply and the boxes should work fine for prints up to 8x12.

I’ve been using these boxes to deliver treats to my Dad who is under quarantine in an assisted living facility. I collect the boxes and treats and then let them sit for a few days before making a delivery. Everyone can use a little chocolate in times like these.

I've been shipping my prints with 3 sheets of cardboad (plus print backing board), making sure one set of corrugations go at 90° to the others.

When I tried shipping large prints rolled in standard shipping tubes, I usually ended up with trouble. While walking the dogs one night I found a 5" diameter tube with a thick cardboard wall (ca. 1/4") in someones recycling bin. I found this, cut u, was much better shipping prints (almost indestructible). These tubes are what carpet is rolled on. I got the last tube I used from Home Depot (for free). You could also probably try carpet stores to get one.

I recall a nifty trick from Luminous Landscape (I believe) to ship a print in a flattish USPS Priority Mail box, but I can't find it now. The trick involved a corrugated cardboard sandwich like Mike describes, but cut so that it would only fit in the box diagonally; add filler to keep the sandwich from rattling around or wanting to sag or fold.

Instead, I found this nice guide with recommendations for a variety of scenarios:


Checking the barn - Good old Fiberbilt
Great tripod cases too!

Most of my cases are made by goldberg brothers in Denver, but the demise of shipping prints to movie theaters seems to have lead to them dropping that line.

After thinking about it I remember that 40 years ago there used to be a storefront in lower Manhattan where you could go in and have them made to order. I had them make a case for my Hasselblad designed to look like plumbers tools.
It turns out those guys are still in business and will still make any case you can imagine.
I think that fiberbilt was and or is the name that they wholesaled to retailers.

At Amazon.

"X-Port (33"x42"x3") Hard Sided Art Shipping & Carrying Case for Poster Boards, Art, Promotional and Display Materials, Advertising, Artwork Storage"


Back in the Day, as they say, those cases were how a Photographer's Book was circulated to Art Directors. Sometime you carried it yourself, sometimes your 'Rep' would carry it, but often we'd get a call from an agency wanting to see our Book. This happened because Photographers also used to do mail promotions, often quarterly, where you would mail anything from a catchy Post card to a lavishly produced multi page fanfold or book filled with the kind of work you hoped to get.
If you walked into an AD's office and one of your promotions was on his bulletin board, it was a good sign.
Pre Internet , this is all we had.
You had to have multiple copies of your Book (Portfolio), and multiple cases. Then you had to chase them down when AD's 'forgot' to send them back.
The cases are made of a product called Vulcanized Fiberboard about 0.062" in thickness, and Stiff and strong as can be. They used to make Toolboxes out of it , and cases for things like Drums and Cymbals, Cinema tripod cases. The biggest producer used to be the Fiber case Company--I just looked, they are still in business, still on Broadway in NYC and have been doing it since 1894! https://fibrecase.com/shippingcases.html
Here is how it is made https://oliner.com/vulcanex-vulcanized-
Sorry about this I got carried away ;-) Seeing the case with all the stickers brought back memories.

Used to ship 16mm film in those mailing cases.

I often buy my prints through a NYC based service. They do a very good job on the prints and a pretty good job on packing. I usually request single weight mounting and they know how to do this well. Otherwise you get the print in a tube. However, in about 1 out of 10 flat shipments, the box looks like it was run over once or twice. This is only a problem when I'm not home. The printer has always replaced the damaged prints with minimal hassle. BTW, when I do ship prints I protect them then mount them between two "masonite" type boards. Cheap enough.

All the years that I was a member of the Friends of Photography, I subscribed at a level that returned me a photograph from some amazing photographers each year. In every case, the photograph was sent to me sandwiched between two sheets of Masonite. Never had a problem with delivery!

So there, you have been told!

Alternating the direction of the corrugations of the layers (i.e., turn 90°) makes the pack much stronger. Gluing them also makes it even stronger. The resulting pack is still the same size and weight.

I suggest that the individual corrugated sheets in each stack be alternated in the direction of the corrugations. That will provide more structural stability. --- Engineer Bruce

Perhaps I've been lurking around here too long, in that, I recall that sopping wet tube:

Thoughts about shipping larger inkjet prints? For example, 24x36?
I've been rolling them into a tube with a protective sheet on the print side. It always makes me nervous, though!


[I think then you are pretty much stuck with tubes. All you can do it try to find tubes with a generous diameter that are sturdily made. I'm received many tubes over the years that are stoven in as they are just not strong enough. --Mike]

Wow! I haven’t seen that case for along time. I used to have one about 20 years ago full of prints. They made all kinds of cases for film, prints etc. I think there were called Zone VI.

In response to that other hugh:
I used to do all my prints between 40x40 and 50x50 (I got a great deal on 50” wide rolls of portriga rapid) and the way I shipped and stored them was in 5” PVC drain pipe with pipe caps at each end.

Some examples here http://hughcrawford.com/bgotw/

I threw a test package out a second floor window and it was undamaged. Waterproof too if you use waterproof tape.

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