Framing Your Vintage Poster

Framing Protects Your Poster

"Archival" framing is the type of framing that preserves your poster from all environmental elements. Following are absolute musts when framing a valuable poster.

  1. If your poster has condition issues, professional linen backing stabilizes the fragile poster paper. After backing, a professional paper conservator will address any damage (See LINEN BACKING). Linen backing is a reversible process and does not compromise the value of the poster. In many instances this backing and restoration will increase its worth. Never let anyone convince you to dry mount a poster, as this destroys its value.
  2. All materials that are in contact with your poster must be acid-free or acid-neutral. This includes mounting boards, corners, matting, and hinging tape. Cotton rag is the preferred material because it is 99% acid free.
  3. Exposure to the UV rays in light is what can cause the fading of the inks in your poster. To minimize light damage, avoid placing artwork near sunlit windows or bright sources of light. There are many choices in what kind of glazing you use, but it should always be UV protecting (conservation or museum glass/acrylic). Acrylic (Plexiglas) looks the same as glass, but is significantly lighter in weight and less breakable. On an oversized poster (larger than 40" x 60") many opt for this type of glazing.
  4. You should never lay the glazing directly on the poster. During temperature and humidity changes, moisture that condenses inside the frame can damage the poster if there is no space. For posters that are not greater than 40" x 60" using a mat will lift the glass off the surface. If no mat is used, a plastic spacer should be placed between the glazing and the surface of the poster. While archival framing will protect the value of your vintage poster, it is more expensive than "decorative framing" due to the higher cost of materials.

Picking Out the Best Framing Design

Should you frame your poster so it fits with the room decor, or should you frame it to maximize the poster's appearance? Ultimately what you pick out for framing is up to you, but your framing professional should help guide you towards the best choice. Describe the room that the poster will be in or bring in pictures. Tell your framer the styles of framing you have used in the past. At that point, you can look at frames that both maximize the look of the poster and fit in with your decor. The framing should not overwhelm the poster, but highlight it.