Foxing is an age-related process of deterioration that causes spots and browning on old paper documents such as books, postage stamps and certificates. The name may derive from the fox-like reddish-brown color of the stains, or the rust chemical ferric oxide which may be involved. Paper so affected is said to be “foxed”.
Although unsightly and a negative factor in the value of the paper item for collectors, foxing does not affect the actual integrity of the paper.
Foxing also occurs in biological study skins or specimens, as an effect of chemical reactions or mold on melanin.
Aside from foxing, other types of age-related paper deterioration include destruction of the lignin by sunlight and absorbed atmospheric pollution, typically causing the paper to go brown and crumble at the edges, and acid-related damage to cheap paper such as newsprint, which is manufactured without neutralizing acidic contaminants.