As everyone returns from summer and the energy and enthusiasm for the new season is burning, September is a great month to finally get around to doing a thorough sacristy inventory. Many sacristies do not possess a complete list of all metalware, textiles, sacramentals, art objects, and equipment. It is essential to keep such a document for historical, practical, and insurance purposes. Ideally a video should be made of all items around and in the sacristy along with several copies of the inventory which should be kept in more than one place. A bank safety deposit box is excellent for storing a CD of images and a spreadsheet of items. You may not realize that an item in inventory has a high value and perhaps may need an insurance itemized rider on the church policy. Chalices with gemstones, sterling silver, and some items of antique vintage may carry a higher value than you realize. If there is any doubt about the value, it is wise to have the object appraised at a reputable appraisers such as Skinner’s in Boston or Christie’s in Newport. Some jewelers may be able to appraise silver or gemstones set in metalware. Items of great value should be kept in a locked safe or in a bank deposit vault and perhaps used only for very special feast days.
Keeping a good inventory which is updated yearly is also a good way to see what may need to be relocated, discarded, mended, or replaced. Several members of the altar guild may wish to divide the work and each take a type of item to inventory, for example: linens, vestments, frontals and all paraments, brass, art objects, wood and ceramic, miscellaneous, etc. The more detail which is able to be included, the better. A digital camera is also very helpful in photographing each item. One member may choose to inventory all linens. A typical spreadsheet can be set up in Microft Excel using headings such as
Linen Type Condition Maker /Source Replacement
Towel Lavabo Good Mary Moore/Almy $28
You may also wish to add information such as donor, if it is a memorial, any inscription or dedication on the piece, information about the donor, date purchased, cost at time of purchase, pattern name, or any other known and helpful information. Once a good inventory is established, a yearly update is an easy thing. Any items removed from inventory should also be noted, and what was the type of dispersal (relocated, donated, burned, replaced, etc.)
Good linen salvaged from damaged and worn old fair linens might be recycled into small linens. The scraps not usable from the fair linen should be burned. Purificators and corporals are blessed items and must also be burned when they are beyond the condition of usefulness. Lavabo towels are not usually blessed unless they have come with a matched set of corporal, lavabo, pall and purificator. These sets might be listed together as one item on an inventory. Mary Moore makes a wedding, Easter, Baptismal, and several other coordinated sets for special Eucharists.
Inventory time is a wonderful time to clean out the summer’s mildew and dust, pollen, and dusty drawer liners, and to get all vestments cleaned and tidy before the busy holy days ahead arrive. Perhaps one member can have the task of typing up the inventory for a hard copy to be kept in the sacristy and several CD disk copies to be made for filing away with the parish secretary, Rector, Treasurer or Senior Warden. After the work is finished, celebrate with a little lunch at a favorite restaurant!