storing metal sort

I am a design student who recently purchased some metal type. The type I found had been sitting in a garage for several years and is coated in oil to prevent rusting. I plan on storing this type inside now, is it necessary to keep it oiled in a temperature-controlled climate?

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No, but it couldn’t hurt it at all to leave it the way it is. Certain acidic materials can corrode type (it doesn’t rust) but it was not uncommon for European foundries to export type covered in a sort of grease. I’d make a wild guess that this might preserve it from sea salt, which is one of those acidic materials. Or it just may have been a commonplace treatment?

At any rate, when and if you ever use it, you will need to clean the oil off with solvent.


Moisture can also corrode type. Some type seems to tend to oxidize (the white powder) more than others under humid conditions. I have always assumed that it perhaps had to do with the formulation of the typemetal itself. Some old fonts seems fine while others are prone to oxidation. In the Midwest we tend to keep dehumidifiers going in our shops in the summer (those shops without air-conditioning) to help thwart this. A good wiping with kerosene or some other material that will leave a thin oily coating that is also very useful. I always give any new type I receive a gentle wiping with a little kerosene before I store it away.