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A former trademark for fine, curly wood shavings. Excelsior is used as a packing material for breakable articles. It is light and provides an effective cushioning material. Excelsior is usually made from Poplar, Aspen, Basswood, or Cottonwood and may contain a combination of several woods obtained as a byproduct from woodworking. It has been used for cushioning heavy stone sculpture and architectural elements (Shelley, 1987). However, two cautions are provided: 1) excelsior is hygroscopic and may turn into wet mush if exposed to widely varying temperatures and humidities, and 2) excelsior should not be used for shipping metal objects as any wood product may emit small amounts of organic acids, such as Acetic acid.

Synonyms and Related Terms

wood wool


May evolve organic acids.

Resources and Citations

  • Marjorie Shelley, The Care and Handling of Art Objects, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1987
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 876
  • Gordon Hanlon, contributed information, 1998