Being an active collector of autographs and in the archival framing industry for over 25 years, I am amazed at what I see when I remove autographs from most frames. Framers should know better when framing autographs versus cheap posters.
My purpose in writing this is to inform collectors on what they need to tell their framer when having their items framed.
Truth be told, the incremental costs of framing it correctly is very little. Yes, my wholesale costs to purchase true museum quality materials is negligible. Anyone telling you otherwise is either a poor businessman or not stating the facts.
First, in a lot of cases, I notice the frame shop will indicate that UV glass or plexiglass was used, when actually it wasn't. Though this is blatant dishonesty, this indicates that you must fully trust the framer and instill how important the correct materials are for framing applications.
Secondly, most framers inherently assume "acid free" matboards marketed as such are good for autographs. Nothing can be further from the truth. Without question, every single time I have removed an "acid free" mat from the autograph I purchased or to reframe for someone else, I notice a mat burn stain where the matting was placed. Only insist on 100% cotton cellulose rag mats. Only these mats and similar backing should only come in contact with the document or autograph.
I have found many times that MOST framers mount the autograph directly on foamcore.....BAD!!! Foamcore, even the "acid-free" type will break down and outgas overtime. If your framer makes the case FOR foamcore, do not walk, but RUN to the door!
Secondly, tell the framer you want archival corrugated board behind the rag backing. AGAIN, NO FOAMCORE.........PERIOD!!!! The best material for outer backing is archival grade coroplast. This is completely inert and rigid for stability and a great buffer.
For glazing (this is either glass or acrylic), you do NOT want non glare glass (this is made with lead!!). You want either Tru Vue Conservation Clear UV filtering glass, Tru Vue Museum Glass, Evonik OP3 AR plexiglass or Tru Vue Optium Museum Acrylic. All too often, I have seen framers not follow this rule to save money.....for them. PLEASE INSIST on this!!!
Light is a huge factor in fading and discoloration; and, you must also keep your item OUT OF DIRECT Sunlight....no matter the glazing.
For mounting, use either mylar corners, strips, or archival hinging.......NO commercial tapes, glues or other over the counter materials. Restrict the use in archival grade tapes. Even Japanese paper. These can add moisture which may cause irreversible buckling.
Tell the framer, you want the top and bottom mat BOOKHINGED! (this means that the top mat with the opening is attached to the bottom mat via linen tape on the top edge). 9 out of 10 times the framer will apply double sticky tape to keep mats attached. Should the item slip within the matting, it may get stuck in the tape....big problem!
A few rules to follow: NEVER, EVER allow the document or photograph to be sandwiched better two pieces of glass, coming in contact with the glass! Condensation will bleed onto the item and harming the document.
Finally, instruct the framer you want the ENTIRE framing process completely REVERSIBLE in case you or someone else in the future may decide to remove the framing to get to the autograph.