As most of my writing, this is a work in progress. More can and will be added. This is just a start - written in response to a request for a framer. This seems so important yet comes up so little. Maybe many of you know this stuff - maybe many can add to it! It is by no means inclusive.
Before I start - I must mention a point suggested by our own Scott paul and it is of tremendous importance! DO NOT BUY framed items you can not open and examine fully! You have no idea what you are getting - and if the seller does, there is likely a reason he is probably not telling you. Several auction houses will not take returns on framed items. There is a reason for that. They sell them tho ;)
I don't like shipping items for several reasons, but it also makes the following questions and requirements difficult to discuss. Don't leave it to the framer! I have heard "my framer attached my Michael Jackson to the mat with masking tape or something laying around as he ran out of linen tape - this is OK, right?! You don't want that! Also, picking the correct mat would be very difficult from afar!
BUT, I can recommend great framing! :) Look for a Conservation Framer. Don't settle for anything less, because this is what you will get.
The Frame: This serves to support, protect and visually enhance the autograph. Wood frames, esp oak or those with odd finishes, will outgas or exude acidic fumes as they age (inside especially - this is one reason people use acid free mats). This problem can be eliminated by using the most inert and stable material for framing - Anodized Aluminum. And wood holds an INCREDIBLE amount of water as well! Aluminum frames are also available sectionally, and this will save you a TON of $. Now they come in an amazing array of finishes and profiles. You can order it to size (comes in 1" increments and custom cut) and just have the Conservation Framer cut the mat and all and do the final assembly - save hundreds. Have the custom look for the ready made price while getting the best protection! Win-win-win!
The Mat/Hinge and Backboard: This is the "window" - it must be acid free. It serves to prevent contact between the graph and the glazing. The backboard is what the autograph is attached to - often with a hinge attached with simple reversible adhesive or sometimes (preferable) acid free "corners" like in old photo albums. It is vital that proper reversible acid free inert materials are used to attach the autographed item! Of course, the backboard must be acid free as well as the linen tape used to hold them together (they get "hinged" as well in a way). I prefer another board after the backboard.
Clips/Nails/Points: These secure the glass and work/mat/backboard in the frame. I prefer metal pressure clips as they are common with Anodized Aluminum, are easily removed and replaced (for that one speck of dust etc) and they do not require a gun to shoot them into the frame! A gun!
Glass/Glazing: This is the first line of defense for your autograph as far as the frame. What kind of glazing/glass is a matter of taste to a degree - the UV does remove some full color saturation esp with darks as it is not quite as clear. Hang properly with 20LB wire and strong eye hooks (or the equivalent on an Aluminum frame) on a proper 40LB picture hanger in a dim spot out, of direct light, and enjoy!
PS - Many framers will attach brown kraft paper to the Reverse as a final step with cheap double-sided tape - do not allow this. Ask for buffered paper or acid free. Be careful and ask about every and all adhesives used at every point of framing.
PSS - If you really want a wooden frame you can have the framer liberally coat the interior of the frame with so called "acrylic gesso" which is just CaCo2 in acrylic emulsion. This will act well as a buffer to the acid coming from the wood. I'd NOT use oak under any circumstances.
I hope this helps!