I have recently, (through a very fortunate happenstance!) acquired an autograph (10x8 glossy , Blue-Sharpie Marker) from an actor whom I hold in high regard. They're not (as of yet) incredibly famous, and at present the piece isn't worth a great deal. However I would still like to display it for my own personal enjoyment.

I have done a little research into the world of framing, where I have been given the standard acid-free matting, UV ( museum / conservation) glass, keep out of sunlight etc. advice.

The questions I would like to pitch to the more experienced community here, which I have been unable thus far to find answers to online are two fold: - 

1) Firstly, as a total new-comer to the hobby,  would you be able to indicate what you would normally expect to have to pay for a museum glass / acid free matted frame for a photo of this description? 

I am definitely going to be making an inquiry down at my local framers, but unfortunately my budget is very limited (one of the many perks of being a student, I suppose!) Therefore I would ideally liked to be armed with a little knowledge in order to be able to protect myself financially. 

2) Whilst it would of course be beneficial to protect the item in museum glass, could any of you indicate the expected lifespan of the autograph if it were displayed behind regular framed glass? ( Probably, shock horror, on my desk - and not in a dark climate controlled closet.) 

Finally, if any of you had any experience of photocopying autographed items, a little advice on how best to do this would be great, too.

(Disclaimer: The only reason I ask re. photocopying is that I am considering making a digital back-up that in the event the original is lost or damaged, I could still hypothetically continue to enjoy (albeit a cloned form) the autograph. I would never intend to sell on or make any monetary gain from this actor's particular act of kindness for a fan. )

Thank you in advance, and apologies for the length. If you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to let me know! Take care, and I hope you're all having a good day. 

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Replies to This Discussion

Hello Simon,

I will mention something that comes to mind today, and a few other points. Be aware of how the photo is secured between the mats and backboard. Those two should operate in unison with the signed photo between, held in place with archival material (hinge, Mylar corners etc). Today I responded to a message where the framer admitted using masking tape to secure the signed photograph. This is unimaginable to me, but it happened to someone and on a $$$ graph. I don't know what kind of "framer" that was. :( You must specify that you want conservation framing when framing the original signed photo - but I would NEVER leave anything of mine with a framer. I get them to build what I need, if even necessary, and I do the rest myself. The masking tape story...and imagining what else that framer might have did that he did NOT say up front...more then enough impetus to get a good framer.

Use anodized aluminum frames IMPO - wood outgasses just like the non-acid free mat you successfully just dodged. Oak for example is terribly acidic and can retain a great deal of water. Anodized aluminum is totally inert for our purposes and does not nullify the acid free board.

Specify spacers between mat and glass - the autograph must not touch the glass.

Have a proper backboard cut. Do not have the rear sealed with brown tape of all things. No adhesives that are not archival inside or at the back.

You have the right aide but I'd do it the other way around - display the copy and keep the original safe someplace else. Saves "excessive" framing costs and preserves the original.

Others here will have additional advice.

Best wishes with your project,



PS - The reason against using the brown "kraft" paper at the back, if they still even try to do that, is that it is rich in sulfur. Acid free paper,white or grey etc, can be used for this - the function to act as buffer to slow down changes in temperature and humidity etc. Watch the adhesives all around. In an anodized aluminum frame, select a third backing board of acid free foamcore. I also like the metal frames as they are far easier to open and adjust if need be. That masking tape problem I mentioned could be solved in a few minutes with some archival hinges and compressed air and perhaps some glass cleaner (after removing the masking take carefully)- were it not for the "substandard" framing which likely involved nails or corner points. That framer wanted a fee to fix! I'd make him refund but I'd never let him near anything signed ever again.


Hi Eric, 

Thank you very much for all your advice, it's much appreciated!

Yikes, that story you mentioned with the masking tape sounds pretty terrifying even to my inexperienced ears. I've found removing tape from even the most mundane of artifacts ( e.g. paint masks for vehicle components, etc.) to be quite the endeavour at the best of times, and more often that not less than successful. 

I wouldn't even want to think about it might do to an expensive autograph were it to be removed by the wrong hands...

Thanks also for the tips on copying! I would never have thought to display the copy vs the original, in consideration this would seem the best policy for me considering my limited budget!

I still, however, intend to get a quote from a reputable framer to see how much I need to scrape together to get the piece safely framed for the future. As such, the things for consideration you've highlighted such as the anodized frame, adhesive care, spacers, and foamcore backing etc. will be invaluable in ensuring the item's continued preservation. 

In the meantime, I suppose the best way to store the original would be in a polyester / mylar sleeve inside a ringbinder, tucked safely alongside the rest of my valuable paperwork?

Thank you again for your time, assistance  and patience, I'm very grateful for the help you've been able to provide. 

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch! 

Kind Regards, 


I only splurge on museum quality glass on high end items. I think its double what conservation glass is, same protection just no glare.

Yes, Barry, and less saturation of color...


Hi Barry, 

Thanks for pointing this out! As it's not an incredibly high-end piece, and I'm only framing for personal enjoyment - I'm not too worried about glare.

If the UV protection is the same, it certainly makes sense to stick with the slightly more affordable conservation glass. 

Many thanks for your contribution! 

Kind Regards, 


Hi Simon,

 You are very welcome. The frames need not be expensive. I posted a link - I will look for it.

Yes re Mylar etc. Stick to archival.

Best wishes,


Hi Eric,

Thank you for confirming my thoughts on best practise(s) for storage. Again, I would be very grateful for anything you could provide linkwise.





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