Shipping it Yourself? A Few Tips

Guidelines for Packing & Shipping


You’ve spoken to a specialist, received preliminary estimates, and are ready to send your material to Swann for placement in an auction. Thinking about shipping it yourself? To ensure your consignment arrives safely, here are some simple best practices for packaging books and artwork, as well as some important reminders.





  1. Wrap each book individually in clean tissue paper or bubble wrap.
  2. Secure all sides with tape, ensuring no tape is placed on the surface of the book.
  3. Wrapped books can be packed in a proportionate box, ensuring that all gaps are filled with extra bubble wrap or crumpled paper. This cushions the book and prevents damage during transit.
  4. Seal all sides of the box with packing tape.
  5. Address your package, clearly indicating a return address and the name of your Swann contact.


  • When shipping more than one book, each volume still needs to be wrapped individually, with extra bubble wrap between each book in the box.
  • Boxes that are too small risk damaging the book in transit.






  1. Unframed prints should always be packed flat. Wrap the print in a protective layer of glassine, craft paper or mylar.
  2. Place the wrapped print on a sheet of cardboard measuring at least two inches wider than the print on all sides. Tape down the corners.
  3. Layer five to seven additional pieces of cardboard, cut to the same size as the first, on either side of your secured print. This will create a cardboard sandwich, with the print in the middle. Tape the opposing sides together.
  4. Cover in a final exterior layer of cardboard, or place in a proportionate box, ensuring that all gaps are cushioned with bubble wrap or crumpled paper.
  5. Address your package, clearly indicating a return address and the name of your Swann contact.


  • Broadsides, small posters and other paper material may also fall under these shipment guidelines.
  • Portfolios or bound volumes of prints will need special care.






  1. Lay the poster on a flat surface, with the image facing up. For extra protection, you can place tissue or wax paper over the front of the poster.
  2. With the front image on the interior, roll the poster from bottom to top.
  3. If the poster is mounted on linen, you can use masking tape to secure it. If it is unmounted, take the additional step of wrapping a piece of paper around the rolled poster before taping it closed.
  4. Put bubble wrap or crumpled paper at the bottom of a poster tube for protective insulation before placing the rolled poster inside.
  5. Add additional insulation inside the rolled-up poster, and at the top of the tube before sealing.
  6. Place the caps on each side of the poster tube, adding a layer of packing tape on top to secure them.
  7. Address your package, clearly indicating a return address and the name of your Swann contact.


  • The thicker the poster tube, the safer it is from being crushed in transit.
  • Smaller posters may be packed flat, following instructions for prints.




We do not advise shipping paintings or canvases yourself, as canvases are fragile and frequently damaged in transit. See the list of professional shippers below.




Consider the value of your frame. If the frame does not add to the value of the piece, and the material is not too fragile, it may be best to remove the frame before shipping. We do not recommend shipping frames yourself. Material shipped in-frame frequently arrives damaged. If you absolutely must ship the frame, consider hiring a professional handler (see below). Regardless of who ships the frame, make sure the glazing (glass or plexi) is thoroughly taped (using painter’s tape) before being packaged. Broken glass=damaged artwork!




It’s wise to insure any shipment regardless of value. While most common carriers (UPS, FedEx, US Postal Service) provide insurance, some reserve the right not to insure collectibles (their term for one-of-a-kind and/or fragile items). Keep in mind that most common carriers have a coverage limit, per parcel, and frames and glass run the risk of voiding coverage.
Every company is different, consignors should have a direct conversation with their local store or post office prior to shipment. You may also consider adding coverage under your homeowner’s policy, if available.



Professional Art Shippers

Professional art shippers typically package and ship the items. Carriers (UPS, FedEx, US Postal Service) are not necessarily responsible for packaging items. Some of the professional art shippers we have worked with recently:




Mentioned above: archival (acid-free) paperbubble wrap, boxes, cardboard, craft paper, glassine paper, mylar (protective plastic sheet), masking tape, packing tape, tissue paper, x-acto knife.



Questions about shipping material to Swann? • (212) 254-4710 ext. 60


Always contact a Swann specialist before sending material. We cannot be held responsible for unannounced packages or the cost of returning the material.

Consign with Swann


Music: Jacob Kristin