Cleaning, preserving old wood type

I recently bought a small mixed lot of old wood type with the idea of making a wall display. Most of it is pretty dirty. What’s the best way to clean it, or should it be cleaned at all (I’ve heard both)? I don’t want to damage it, or diminish its value as a collectible. Also, the best way to preserve it?

Regarding a display, I’d appreciate any suggestions. I’ve heard the type should be held in place by pressure alone (in a tight frame, for example), never glued or tacked. The random shape I would prefer, however, doesn’t lend itself to framing.

image: type2.JPG


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CLEANING - as these are all broken fonts, it will not diminish its value to printers or collectors - for them it already has no value! So its value is to two groups - those who would like to display it as a collectible, and maybe artists who like to use them for effect as individual blocks.
Some people use soapy water and a toothbrush - a quick dip, then dry off most of the moisture with a rag - will not do any harm. Or you can wipe them with a rag with a mild solvent for the ink, such as denatured alcohol. Either way will leave you with a flat finish. Then rub hard on the face of the letter with a clean soft rag for a lovely natural sheen. But others go further and use a polish, although I don’t because 1) it is adding something, and 2) it may harm future usage for printing.
Your type has no great rarities in it, so feel free to experiment on a few small pieces first.
DISPLAY - lots of different ways, but my principal is they should be reversible by a future owner if they wanted. For a random collage shape (say a circle), with no frame, one possible way is lay out your design on a large piece of paper. When you are happy with it, trace the outline of the shape onto the paper it is sitting on. Carefully slide out the paper! Now cut a piece of plyboard to that exact same shape but smaller by say half an inch. Now attach the pieces onto the ply one by one in the exact same arrangement. Use a silicon sealent (eg as often used for glass) this has a slight flexibility, you can push the pieces around, and if you ever want to reverse this, you can.
Finished result - any shape you want, invisibly held, fully reversible, and no damaged type.

Thank you, Philip. This is precisely the information I was looking for.