Haven't seen any discussions about this (sorry if there are and I missed 'em).


I have a lot of really nice items that I've always kept all nice and stored away with the idea of 'someday when I have the money, I'll start getting them professionally framed etc.' Well, of course pro framing is terribly expensive and of course I never end up having a couple hundred extra dollars sitting around...SO I finally figured I'd make a compromise and buy some middle of the road frames for the time being so I could at least enjoy some of my signed treasures.


Well, having some things up on the wall gave me quite a thrill, but I started getting paranoid after a while about whether they were going to or are fading. I have absolutely no sunlight getting into this room and only light from a chandelier that hangs in the middle of the room.


So, for all the experts out there: Can regular indoor lighting affect autographs? Do most/any/some of you display your autographs? How much does the supposed protective glass that the pro's frame with really help protect against lighting? Matting do's and don't's?


Any thoughts on any points in how to best preserve and display autographs, and any horror or success stories on these matters would be greatly appreciated. I kind of freaked out and took the things down that I had up for a couple years and put them back into safe storage.


...of course until I get those spare hundreds of dollars to do it right!


Thanks in advance!

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This is a question for Rick Badwey. I'll drop him a note.

I haven't had any horror stories. I think that would take years. Autographs are fragile things though. Things written today won't last as long as things hundreds of years ago because of the quality of paper unless they're preserved.


I'm not an expert and I don't have a trained eye to know what to look for but I haven't noticed any fading on my pieces which are hung up. Direct sunlight is probably bad as it is for things like comic books etc. . . I do my own matting and framing. The supplies are pretty cheap and I find some really nice (and sometimes) expensive frames at a local Pottery store with a big clearance section. My one tip for matting (whether you do it yourself or pay for it), make sure you don't use tape on the autographs. Your average framing store may not understand that unless you tell them. I would only get expensive pieces matted and framed at a place which has years of experience, reputable workers, and other clients with valuable items such as museums etc. . .


For general storage, I use top loaders, especially for checks which I don't usually display and my comics. Then screwdowns for old ads and things of that nature.

Light will always eventually get to a signed item. It's just a matter of how fast. Even the best protection in the world will just slow it down.


For signed photos I want to display, I make a high resolution scan (300 dpi) of the original and get an 8x10 photoprint from Shutterfly, Walmart... whatever.


Put the copy in the frame with a nice matte and no one will ever know it is a copy under glass. Your original is tucked safely away from those harmful UV rays and you can still enjoy looking at it every day. When it fades, just make another copy. :-)

As far as the tape, there is an acid free tape made specifically for these situations.  The framing stores that know what they are doing will use it and have it for sale.  I too have been doing my own matting and framing for the past 10 years.  I have also learned that any framed item that I bought even though authenticated, should be opened up at the back.  I started to get suspicious of the quality of the framing material and found that many of the items had a cardboard backing instead of the acid free foam/core backing.  Also, a lot of general tape was used.  It does take time for these materials to have an effect on the photo, but eventually there will be issues.  Any framed photo that I have that has the sealed paper backing, I open it up and check.  I have probably had to change out 15 of these.  


Definitely keep away from any sunlight.  I have been told that regular lighting can have an effect, but it takes quite a bit of time.  Some framers have told me that the uv protective glass is just a way to scare people into spending more money than necessary.  

Thanks Steve.  Museum framing should not be expensive.  The costs are mostly driven by labor and the frame you pick.  The actual materials, such as 100% cotton rag matting and the UV glass is modestly priced.  There are some framers that do price things in the stratosphere, but I do not believe that is fair.


For lighting, normal, average indoor lighting is fine.  The most important thing is to keep your items out of DIRECT sunlight.  If the sunbeam hits your items at certain times in the day, then you need to move it.  ALthough UV filtering glass filters out 98% to 99% of the harmful UV light, still a certain amounts gets through and over time fading happens.


I have had things hang in my office for many years without any effects. If you follow the above, you should be fine.  Just make sure it is followed.  I have seen cases where items have been harmed that people have sent me or brought in, and the primary reason is the proper materials and techniques were not used. 

I agree on the pricing, it has become ridiculous, especially the cost to cut a mat.


I'm assuming by mat you mean a "mount" as we say in the UK. I bought a Logan cutter and do my own. Takes some practice but you have total flexibility and control over what you do.....and the important part is you don't have to part company with your valuable pictures/autographs.

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Here's what's achievable if you apply yourself. Patience is essential especially in early days as a few bad cuts are inevitable. The badge is inset two mats deep to take it away from the glass.

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By the way, NEVER, EVER use ANY tape.  The only things we use is mylar corners, polyester strip sides, rag corners or in a few cases, Japanese tissue.


Any tape, even the so called framers tape is improper.  When I started my business nearly 25 years ago, I initially used the so called, Framers Tape, on some worthless stock certificates because it was marketed as an archival tape for certain applications. (this is one of the few times in my business I used them and only in the very beginning years ago.  Well, when the client wanted to sell them recently and remove the stocks, to save on shipping, it was a bear to remove them.  Although he did not care, I did.  I had to use some archival solutions to remove them.  It worked, but not too many collectors would have this stuff lying around.

You would be surprised at the many, many frame shops who STILL use not only framers tape, but worse!!  It is ashame.  

A month ago, I took apart a nice Robert E. Lee war date letter only to find a very recent framer used scotch tape to mount the letter.  Had to go to a conservator to remove the tape and residue.  Expensive!



Unfortunately in my experience this does happen from time to time...direct sun light is the main killer I have noticed over the years....I have actually had signed baseballs become virtually white as if the ball was never signed...all light no matter what will in a way damage a piece in time...but UV ball protectors and or glass can help but Iam not sure if there really 100 percent although I use as much UV protection as I can...it hurts not being able to hang your prized possession because of the potential of having your piece(s) get damaged.....sad but true it does happen...Mr.zipper makes a great point were as to scan the item especially an autographed photo and hang the color copy...I know its not the same but believe me it will look exactly the same as if it was the original...keep the original in a top loader boxed away in the closet...this is one of the reasons your not allowed to take flash photography in a museum it has the same effect...as a matter of fact I have my Mickey Mantle hanging in my closet...true story just so it never ever gets effected by the sun light...it may sound crazy but every morning and evening is when I get to enjoy it getting dressed and then putting my cloths and shoes back...here's the pic

Please send that fake to me so I can destroy it properly. ;-)



This is 100% correct. Paint pen should never come in contact with anything other than a mylar sleeve. It won't react to the mylar, but it will to almost everything else.


BTW, I would not use topholders for anything other than temporary storage while in the mail. They offer good protection for the mail, but they are often full of oily PVC. I have seen blue Sharpie sigs stick to the inside of a toploader and pull right off a glossy photo when it was slid out! Do not store your pics in topholders.


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