Having been in the sculpture repair and restoration business for over 30 years I have seen more than my share of precious items that have been damaged during shipping. In almost every case the reason for the breakage was the result of one thing – improper packing.
When an item is properly packed for shipping it is placed in its container in a way in which it cannot move and there are no pressure points on extended parts. When an item is improperly packed, what often causes breakage is an extended part of an object situated closely to the sides of the box and not packed tightly enough to prevent migration. When an item packed in non-secure packaging moves through the normal shipping process it is tossed and vibrated for days. Shifting occurs and damage to the contents can easily result.
The first thing to determine when packing an item for shipping is if the item has extended parts. Parts of any item that protrude from the main body of the item are vulnerable to breakage and strategic placement is a must.
In any case, an item packed in a box for shipping should not be able to move around. There should be at least 2” to 4” between the extremity and side of the box. To properly pack an item for shipping use the box-inside-a-box method. Wrap your item in tissue then bubble wrap or other suitable cushioning material. Place it in the first box with plenty of packing material such as peanuts packed tightly all around so the item cannot possibly move. Then take that box and pack it tightly inside another box with plenty of the same packing material so that box is immobilized. Depending on the size of the piece the second box should have also have 2-4 inches of space around all sides.
It is worth taking the extra time to pack any item you need to ship in the box-in-a-box method to minimize the danger of breakage or other damage. In the long run it will save time and money spent in having items restored and repaired.