Pak Mail Santa Fe provides custom crating, packing, and shipping services for high-value and one-of-a-kind items.
For over 30 years, our expert art shipping and packing professionals have specialized in custom shipping fine art.
Custom shipping Santa Fe: A real life scenario
Recently, a tourist from Ohio visited Santa Fe and bought a large bronze sculpture of a leaping elk from Mountain Trails Fine Arts Gallery on Old Santa Fe Trail. He decided he would personally transport his bronze sculpture on a flatbed trailer and drive it 2,000 miles back home
The sculpture stood mounted to a block of cement, which would need to be removed for transport. Without it, the sculpture was not stable or counterbalanced. Once back in Santa Fe, he realized he needed expert packing assistance to ensure its safe transport home.
The gallery called Pak Mail.
Pak Mail Santa Fe crating assessment
Smaller pieces don’t necessarily need such detailed crating as did this piece with intricate shapes comprising 1,500 pounds of material. We went to the gallery four times to make our assessments.
- Measured the bronze sculpture in all its dimensions and angles to determine the size of the braces and straps that would be needed to hold the piece in place on the flatbed trailer.
- We acquired the sculpture’s dimensions from the warehouse and assessed the rough prototypes and wax moldings used for the pouring of the bronze.
- Examined the existing counterbalance of the bronze sculpture — how could we pack this piece safely for transport on a flatbed? Without its concrete base, the bronze sculpture was not counterbalanced to allow safe shipment.
- Our third assessment trip involved forming the braces for packing and crating. We realized that one brace that had been custom-cut to specifications did not fit correctly under the chin of the elk sculpture. So we altered our next cuts and preps accordingly to better house the piece.
Date of load
Our task was to safely pack the piece and strap it securely, without damaging its fine patina. We brought power tools plus extra materials. Our Pak Mail crew joined with representatives from the gallery and the locally-based crane operator.
We met in the street in front of the Inn of the Laredo where the buyer had his flatbed trailer waiting. It was early in the morning when there was not much traffic.
First, the crane operator supported the 1,500-pound sculpture while we determined the angles for placement. Then, we cut the bolts to free the base. Once it was freed, we worked incrementally to place it on the trailer.
We looked at the angles and the general geometry of the sculpture to determine vulnerabilities, such as the antlers. We ran straps at different angles, careful to not leave rub marks. No surface was flat or symmetrical.
Straps and braces can harm the bronze patina finish, especially considering the potential dings from traveling 2,000 miles.
We did a couple of test runs and made adjustments accordingly, including one new brace on site, under the neck of the elk to support the balance for the antler rack. Then, we wrapped plastic sheeting and soft foam for cushioning before placing and tightening the straps. We redid all the straps until we were certain it was secure for safe transport.
The buyer made safe passage to Ohio with his bronze elk sculpture, with no shifting nor any damage to the sculpture whatsoever. The buyer, the gallery, the crane operator, and our Pak Mail crew all worked together as a team to make this happen!
Cost and insurance for the custom shipping of the elk sculpture
Since the buyer provided the trailer and transportation, the carrier insurance was on the buyer’s personal insurance. Pak Mail Santa Fe charges were for a total of materials and labor, and came out to approximately $400. The charge for the crane operator was $800.
Pak Mail Santa Fe only charges for the services we provide and the cost of materials. Our quotes and charges are transparent. You will find no new line items to our invoices.
Shipping insurance for unique items
When we ship an item for our customers, we use our own alternate declared value (ADV) program which allows us to cover a “one-of-a-kind” item.
Other shippers such as UPS and FedEx sell you carrier insurance and charge you for coverage for the proclaimed value of your item. However, when you have a claim, you go through their underwriters.
Did you know that those underwriters don’t cover claims on original artworks under this type of carrier insurance?
In other words, you will have no claim for compensation, due to it being a “one-of-a-kind.” Call Pak Mail Santa Fe for more details at 505-989-7380.
Our doors are open to walk-ins and we offer curbside service
As of early April, we have opened our doors to the general public. However, our curbside pickup service is still quite popular. Pak Mail Santa Fe continues to offer in-house and curbside pickup and drop off, as well as our on-site pickup services.