Jay, if you want to get that tape off without damaging the box, your can use a soft. wedge tipped paint brush with Naptha on it. The Naptha will soften the adhesive and allow you to gently lift the tape up by slowly pushing the end of the paint brush bristles up under the tape as it lifts up. Don't hurry it. If you hurry and try to push up the tape before the Naptha has softened the adhesive enough to let go, you could cause the graphics to be pulled up by the tape. Use as much Naptha as necessary, as it will not damage the box or graphics and dries without leaving a residue. After the tape is off, uses a tissue soaked in Naptha to remove any remaining sticky adhesive. Another method is to just pour the Naptha over the box until the tape falls off. I have used this method to remove old dark cellophane tape as well as masking tape from old newspapers and books and you know how delicate newspaper is.
You can repair the box by applying Elmer's white glue to the torn halves which dries clear. It only takes a little glue to permanently repair the tears. Apply the glue to and inconspicuous place inside the box, first to see if it will darken the cardboard (wait until it dries before determining). If, after it dries, it does darken the cardboard, then the repairs should be done from the inside of the box. Jim Patrick
I've had great success using the heat from a hair dryer to remove masking tape, cellophane tape, packing tape and labels from paper and cardboard. Just slowly peel the tape while it is being heated.
Even hard as rock, dried out masking tape easily lifts with a little heat.
Jim, Thanks for taking the time to share your tips on removing the old tape and repairing the beat up old original box.
And thank you, Jay, for posting your accessories of the day. We need to get your boxes in good shape for when you are ready to photograph the illustrations for your vintage auto accessories book.
The reason naptha is so good is because it is a strong, but mild solvent with a fast evaporation time. To give it more time to work, you may want to consider wrapping the box in a Naptha soaked paper towel or Kleenex tissue, then continue to dampen the paper towel until it has done its' magic.
Be sure and let me know when that book is ready. I'm saving a place for it on my coffee table.