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 ;)

AVOID buyong items mounted or glued down to board - the unknown glue is of different surface tension and can cause rippling, tearing, cupping, yellowing, staining etc. 

**Information added: One can always frame a good quality color photograph of the autographed items bypassing completely the problems of fading, theft, and expensive framing.**

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 FramerDon'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!

Views: 266

Comment by Eric K. Longo on October 22, 2017 at 8:02pm

Thanks to Steve Cyrkin for featuring this little article. It is an issue I feel is important and overlooked.

Comment by Devon Laney on October 22, 2017 at 10:06pm
Great article! Many very valuable points, Eric. Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Eric K. Longo on October 22, 2017 at 10:35pm

Thanks Devon. I appreciate it truly. It is my pleasure to share. I hope others will contribute additional tips and such. 

Comment by Scott Paul on October 23, 2017 at 4:05pm

Great post Eric!  I almost never buy framed items because you never know what you are getting into.  I have seen masking tape, "Scotch" tape, glue, rubber cement etc. to attach the autograph to the matting.

Comment by Eric K. Longo on October 23, 2017 at 4:35pm

Wow Scott! I totally missed that! Ultra important! Who knows what lurks!!!!! Excellent addition!

Comment by Eric K. Longo on October 23, 2017 at 8:15pm

Hey All,

What Scott mentioned is really worth repeating twice. Many times an item with a defect, a tear, stain, crease, loss, etc, is matted and or framed to obscure this very fact detracting from the condition and thus the value. The policies of some auction houses confirm this as truth. Obviously, not all items well presented have problems, but you must make a physical examination, or you will not know. Get accustomed to identifying the types of adhesives and such - so that you can make a sound evaluation of what is at hand. No one looks out for you like you, no matter the fee... 

"Only you can prevent forest fires" ;) 

Comment by Zoe on December 20, 2017 at 12:03pm

I’m just in the process of learning all about frames, I have quite a few large pieces I need framed up, what about acrylic fronts? I believe them to be a good alternative to glass, especially if they’re UV graded.

You can easily buy off the shelf, ready made aluminium, acrylic fronted frames, however, how do you tell if the acrylic is UV graded? 

Avoid PVC fronts at all costs.

Comment by Eric K. Longo on December 20, 2017 at 12:18pm

I use sectional anodized aluminum frames purchased in pairs of sides online, easily assembled. I get my acid free mats and boards cut at a good framing shop, along with the glass (US is up to you) and I do the assembly myself with proper reversible materials. I would not trust a ready made aluminum frame to have UV plexi. To close the frame, you'll just need the clips provided, quality glass cleaner for this purpose and a can of compressed air. If I can any more...

Comment by goodcat on December 20, 2017 at 12:31pm

Great thread Eric 

Very valuable information for valuable items care

Comment by Eric K. Longo on December 20, 2017 at 4:41pm

Sorry that was "UV" not "US"... ;)


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