I've got about a dozen bottles from the 1890's to about 1905 that I found in a barn in Arkansas. Some of them were in their original boxes, but the labels have detached from a couple of them. What is the best way to reattach the labels without damaging them or the bottles. I am sure there is a way to do it without damaging the fragile paper. Perhaps someone has had experience in doing this.
The following is one of the bottles I found, the label is on the right.
I recommend using a simple glue stick. No mess and it doesn't go through the labels and ruin them like a liquid would. You can easily wipe off any extra glue from the bottle. Just try to find the regular white ones and not the weird colors they make now.
A glue stick, you mean like an Elmers glue stick? Surely there is museum quality stuff they use. I know this bottle isn't worth much (although I doubt many exist anymore of Dr. Thachers with everything intact with it) but I view it as a piece of history and something no matter the value should be preserved. I don't think museums would use a glue stick, but Im not sure.
Yep an Elmer's glue stick. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one. If you want to needlessly pay more for some museum quality adhesive go ahead. I've used glue sticks on early 1900's bottles and it looks exactly like it came from the factory. Just apply it to the bottle and not the label of course.
Acid-free rubber cement, which Elmer does put out, can be had in most any hobby section of stores. Use it and it only. Other glues may bleed through, alter the colors as they react with the inks, leach out acids, or otherwise crumble in time.
Rubber cement can be safely removed if desired but maintains a strong, flexible hold that in no way damages the paper as it is inert and stable throughout the years. Archivists use it, from book restorations to backing antique paintings or photographs.
I use nothing else but acid-free rubber cement for reattaching labels. Clear going on and when dry, stable, flexible so it bends instead of cracks when impacted, removable, etc.: The perfect solution.
I have to agree with Leon. Elmers Glue Stick should work just fine. When the labels were originally put on the bottle no one cared what glue was used they just put it on the label and slapped it on the bottle. There are bottles out there that have had there labels for over a hundred years with no problems with the glue destroying the label. I doubt if modern glue, such as a glue stick, made for applying paper to other objects is going to do any damage.