Every day we receive phone calls and emails from many of you all over the country. Some calls are from people concerned about protecting their artwork or photographs and many are from newer movie poster or other collectable paper collectors that have come into the hobby at a time when so much conflicting information is out there that they don't know what to believe. Many seasoned collectors are just now dealing with the archival framing issue, as they have watched the price of their posters or collectables go up dramatically in the last few years. Wanting to protect and preserve poster investments, all collectors are re-evaluating posters they have already had framed or are about to frame. As a wholesale picture framer and movie poster collector, we deal with these issues daily. Here are some of the questions most frequently asked regarding framing of movie posters along with answers and suggestions to assist you.
PLEASE REMEMBER, OUR ANSWERS ARE BASED ON OUR OWN EXPERIENCES IN FRAMING ORIGINAL MOVIE POSTERS FOR OVER 25 YEARS. WHILE OTHER FRAMERS MAY TELL YOU DIFFERENTLY OUR BEST ADVICE IS TO USE YOUR OWN COMMON SENSE.
This is the most commonly asked question. Our answer is that it doesn't have to. You can frame a movie poster, or other oversize posters, in quality materials without paying an arm and a leg. Having said that, realize that most retail frame shops work on a large markup. Obviously, many retail stores have a large overhead and all of that has to be built into the cost of your frame job. In addition, many retail frame shops are not used to framing collectible posters. To them, movie posters or advertising posters are nothing more than oversize posters and often get framed accordingly. This is where we run into problems. We have people who call everyday to say that they have paid $250 and up to frame a poster and it didn’t include any archival materials. Often the framer has glued their movie poster, lithograph, serigraph or valuable artwork to cardboard and trimmed the poster down to fit some standard size materials the framer had on hand. In other instances, the customer has been told they had to use spacers and it would cost about $50-$75 more. We have had customers recall visiting frame shops where they were told if they did not frame their poster in the manner suggested, the establishment could not be responsible for future damage occurring to the poster. Well this is enough to scare any collector and is consumer blackmail at work. Framing anything is fairly rudimentary. As long as you use high quality acid free materials, you don't have to frame your movie poster in solid gold to protect it. Obviously, there is a way that we at Hollywoodposterframes.com can sell a totally archival, custom cut frame, one sheet size frame, whether linen backed or not, for $89. Even though that is wholesale cost to you, the fact remains, retail framing has a large markup. Remember, though we are selling it to you at a wholesale cost, we have retail shops that purchase these frames and mark them up three to four times before they sell them in their stores. Because we frame for the studios in Los Angeles, large corporate accounts, and ship custom frames for posters to customers all over the country, we buy very large quantities of materials. UV filtered plexiglass is the most expensive component in the frame job. Many retail frame stores don't even carry UV filtered plexiglass, and have to special order it when needed. Special orders and small quantity means a high price. If you pick up a phone in your own area and call a retail frame store or a plexiglass dealer and ask how much it would cost for a 27"x41" piece of 1/8" UV filtered plexiglass, the prices will begin at about $150 per piece. It's the same with archival backing materials; because most frame stores order very small quantities of these materials, by the time they've added their markup, the price of your frame job goes through the roof. At Hollywoodposterframes.com we make archival framing available to you at wholesale prices. We ourselves know, as collectors, this leaves more money available to buy another movie poster!!
The most important components in framing your movie posters, antique paper or photographs for preservation and longevity are what is in front of the poster and what is behind the poster. The frame itself is mostly for aesthetics and has little, if any bearing on the preservation of your piece. In our opinion, whether it is regular glass or conservation glass, it's a no-no. Glass breaks, and for that reason alone it should not be used on valuable collectibles. More importantly, regular glass has no conservation qualities at all. Regular glass accelerates fading because is has no UV or light filtering agents. While conservation glass does implement those filters, it is extremely costly and it still breaks. Remember, the most common size movie poster collected is still the one sheet and at 27x41 or 27x40, because it is large and weighs so much its risk of glass breakage very high. We frequently see customers bringing in movie posters, framed in glass, that have fallen. Usually glass breaks from one corner to the opposite corner and often, due to the weight, the top half of the broken glass slides behind the bottom half and scrapes the face of the poster. Therefore, a high-grade acrylic, preferably a UV filtered plexiglass is recommended. A good grade of this type of plexiglass should be about 1/8" thick. Another problem with glass is moisture entrapment. We get framed movie posters brought into our store all the time that have had moisture trapped inside them at one point and the posters are stuck to the glass. Unfortunately, the posters have to be scraped off the glass and restored. We have dealt with UV filtered plexiglass for over twenty years and have never had a piece stick to it. Archival, 100% acid free backing board should be placed behind your movie poster, whether linen backed or not. If you use ¼" archival foamcore, not regular white foamcore which is not 100% acid free, you not only have an acid free environment, but the rigidity to keep your poster as flat as possible. The Archival Frame and Deluxe Frame available at wholesale prices on our website, www.hollywoodposterframes.com, includes all the components you would need to frame and display your collectible movie posters.
If you are using high quality acrylic or UV filtered plexiglass, there is no need to use spacers. In fact with most items as large as movie posters, they are ineffective. Spacers are typically small acrylic rods that sit out on the perimeter of your glass or plexiglass, in theory, to hold the glass or plexiglass above the media. However, if you look closely, the only place the spacers are holding the glass or plexiglass above the poster is out on the perimeter. In actuality, the glass or plexiglass is touching the poster in most of the middle of it. Since we don't typically mount movie posters to boards anymore, when we install them in a frame, it is usually just the poster or the linen backed poster. One of the downsides of spacers in this situation is that if there is any space in front of the poster, the paper, whether linen backed or not, will move forward into that space; usually causing major rippling and buckling. Paper has a memory. Often buckling is permanent, so that if you remove the buckled poster from the frame, you have to have it linen backed or re-linen backed to get it to be flat again.
No. You shouldn't put corrugated cardboard behind anything in a frame that you care about. Cardboard, whether corrugated or not, is basically junk paper. It is loaded with acid and is the fastest way to paper decay. Not only does it turn your poster or valuable artwork yellow, it depletes the moisture in your paper that gave it any suppleness it might have and cause the paper to become brittle and break and tear easily. We have taken framed posters apart to reframe that had cardboard behind them; not only had they turned yellow, but the corrugation lines of the cardboard were now on the back of the poster. Older vintage posters were printed on flat paper stock that is much more absorbent than the glossy stock used currently for movie posters. Posters, lithographs, photos or any paper will absorb the acid from the cardboard very fast and since it is typically the vintage posters that are more valuable, cardboard would not be a viable product.
Movie posters are not standard sizes in the readymade framing world. Readymade frames are typically based on photographic sizes. However, with movie poster collecting becoming so popular over the last several years, there are a few larger chain stores and even a couple of internet sites that offer one sheet sized frames, mostly for current 27x40 movie posters. However, these are mass-produced frames and usually made of inferior products for display. They are definitely not for protecting your posters from harmful acid decay. At Hollywoodposterframes.com we sell a one-sheet size Economy Frame for $49 wholesale. This includes UV filtered plexiglass and ¼" white foam core in a custom cut frame. Since we custom cut every frame, we have each customer hand measure the poster that they will be installing in the frame before we cut it. This way if you have an odd size poster, for example a reproduction movie poster that is under 27x41, we cut it to its actual size so your poster fits perfectly. This allows you to have a great looking piece fit to its exact size while not having to center your poster into a pre-cut frame with uneven borders showing.
That is a question only you can answer. For most of our studio accounts and many of our collectors across the country, satin black is the most popularly ordered color. Many of our customers feel the need for consistency, since the posters themselves are already somewhat busy. However, we do have many collectors who frame according to the poster itself. For instance, many of our customers who collect western posters use the satin bronze color as their frame of choice.
The frame is strictly for looks. A metal frame is less expensive than a wood frame, assuming you are using custom materials. Also, when framing a large movie poster, you can use a small metal frame, but if you choose wood, it must be wide enough to hold the weight and flexibility of the frame. A metal frame is assembled with an L-shaped metal corner, whereas, a wood frame is put together with glue and nails. So you can't frame a one sheet in a ¼" wood frame, but you can in a ¼" metal frame, and they still look great. In the end, it all boils down to the look and how much it costs to get it. Custom quality metal frames are much less expensive when you get up to that size of frame.
No. Again, if your poster is sandwiched in between the plexiglass and the acid free archival backing, you are safe. Depending on the frame you choose, the poster is secured in the frame to reduce sagging from gravity. It is important, though, that the framer over cut the frame at least 1/8" bigger than the actual poster, whether linen backed, paperbacked or not. This is for a couple of reasons; we like to call it breathing room. Just as your front door swells up when it rains outside, so too does your movie poster paper/linen, when the humidity changes. The poster needs room to "breathe" or it can begin rippling or buckling in the frame. Some rippling is common, simply due to the fact that the poster is not mounted to a stiff board and has some pliability in the frame. However, if your frame is not over cut to accommodate poster changes, the poster will "breathe" and have no space to move into; thus will buckle toward the middle of the poster. This can be a problem later as paper has a memory and sometimes the only way to get severe buckling out of a poster is to have is linen backed. A linen backed poster is not immune from this problem. Even though it has more substance than a non-linen backed poster. If it buckles or ripples too severely, often you have to have it re-linen backed to get the poster to lay flat again.
If you are the type of collector that likes to have their posters lay perfectly flat in the frame and look like they just rolled off the press, you have no choice but to linen back and restore. However, linen backing and restoration is a costly process and once again, our motto is to keep as much money available to buy more posters. There is a little gimmick we use to install folded movie posters in the frame. First off, we make a light reverse fold on the fold lines. You have, on a standard folded one sheet, 3 horizontal folds and 1 vertical fold. Just unfold the poster all the way and basically, lightly fold it backwards. Then roll it up for a day or two to about a 2-3 inch diameter roll. When you unroll it, the folds will have fallen out as much as they are ever going to but it makes for a nice display in the frame. This is a procedure that should be done before measuring for the size of the frame. Remember, tension in the paper has been released at the fold lines and when is flattened out may be larger than its original non-folded size which is common when linen backing movie posters. We have had 27"x41" movie posters sent to us to frame, that upon linen backing, stretched out to as much as 28"x42" not counting the excess linen that is left around the border.
This is another one of those questions that only you can make the decision on. There are reasons that we linen back or paperback posters and artwork. Linen backing is usually done because some sort of restoration is necessary. Generally when a poster is linen backed, the restorer also cleans and de-acidifies it. The linen backing or paper backing process itself, lends a solid surface for restoration to be done. Fold lines, holes and even major paper loss can be restored. Often, just the cleaning process alone makes original colors in the poster, come to life again. However, some collectors like the "weathered" look for their posters. They don't mind a bit of aging or a little fold separation here and there. Once your poster or artwork is in an archival frame any further decay is virtually stopped. Some customers have their current rolled movie posters linen backed because they want them to look at perfect as possible in the frame. Some collectors feel that linen backing devalues the poster. All is up for debate. Remember, linen backing is an expensive venture. So, determine your own reasons for linen backing first. Also, with the rise in movie poster prices over the last five to seven years and many more collectors coming into the hobby, there has been an incredible rise in the number of linen backers available out there. As collectors ourselves, we can't emphasize enough how important your choice of a linen backer/restorer is. Even though we am somewhat partial to the framing end of our collection, being conservation picture framers, we know as collectors there is no one more important to the life of your movie posters than who you choose to linen back/restore them. Find out the years of experience they have, get referrals, ask questions, and shop around. Don't always go with the cheapest in this case. Talk to movie poster dealers of longstanding. Ask who they use. In many cases, these posters are worth thousands of dollars. We offer a linen backing/restoration service through our company using our wholesale account. Remember, inform yourself the best you can by asking lots of questions and when in doubt, use your own common sense.
In the old days, linen backers would often return your restored poster to you trimmed right to the edge of the original poster. In more recent years, many linen backers leave a small amount of excess linen around the poster. This is done for several reasons. The first reason is because when it is shipped back to you, if it moves around in the tube, the excess linen can take a bit of a bend instead of the poster. Also, since the canvas fabric can fray a bit on the edge, by leaving a little extra, you don't have the frayed fabric going into the poster. When handling the linen backed poster you have a little excess linen to grab instead of the actual poster paper. Surely there are other reasons we could think of but these are among the most important. When you go to frame the poster, if you are using a mat border, there is no reason to trim the excess off. It will be sitting behind the mat and you won't see it. This brings us to the reason for our question. Many collectors do not like to see the excess linen in the frame; typically the linen is not the same color as the actual movie poster paper and to some, it looks odd. Also, not all linen backers leave an equal amount of excess linen but then tell customers never to trim the linen at all. Well, why would anyone frame a poster with uneven amounts of linen around the edges so that the poster would not be centered in the frame? This is another one of those "use your common sense" questions. For a large contingency of my customers who prefer not to see the excess linen when framing, we trim the linen down to about ¼" all the way around. That way, we have not trimmed right up to the edge of the poster and the frame lip on most frames will cover that ¼" of excess linen so it will never be seen. It is a personal choice. We have a few customers who believe that trimming down the excess linen devalues the posters. Our "common sense" tells us since the linen was not part of the original poster, how can it devalue the poster. Also, one probably can guess that if you have a valuable movie poster to sell, no one is going to not buy it because there is only 1/4" of excess linen around the edges. If that were true, then all those posters that were linen backed, years before leaving excess linen was done, would be of lesser value. We don't believe this to be the case and this is why posters are still purchased today that were trimmed right up to the edge of the paper. Again, this is one of those topics debated frequently.
It is commonly felt that mounting a movie poster to a mounting board, mat board or such, devalues the movie poster. Because of this commonly accepted rule of thumb in the hobby, it is best not to mount your posters to insure the highest value for future sale or trade. However, it must be noted, that with high quality materials that are available today, a poster could be mounted and as long as acid free board and water-based adhesives were used, the mounting process is reversible. We say this to collectors who have posters that will probably never be worth much money. They don't want to go to the expense of linen backing, but they want their poster to lay perfectly flat in the frame. Therefore it is important to consider that under certain circumstances, with the correct materials, mounting a poster can be reversed at a later date if the value of the poster increased or there was a future desire to linen back the poster. Reversing a mounted poster is something that can be done by most linen backers and restorers.
The frames Hollywoodposterframes.com builds are specifically made for just this purpose. Many of our studio accounts have to switch out posters all the time as new movies are being released and there is limited wall space. This is a common necessity with many movie poster collectors too. When you consider the frame you choose to display your posters in, you may want to consider the ease of swapping out posters in the frame.
Since we have already talked about glass being a no-no in movie poster framing, we can now address the types of acrylics and plexiglass that are available for to you. Remember, you always want to choose a high quality acrylic of approximately 1/8" thickness. Plexiglass is available in clear and non-glare. For many years, we were not big proponents of non-glare glass. This was because when you laid it on the poster or artwork, it gave a bit of a grey cast, dissipated color and made the piece slightly out of focus. This was the tradeoff at the time however, to get a non-glare product. A few years back the company we purchase plexiglass from, came out with a non-glare product that is actually true view. True view means you don't get glare from the lighting in front of the frame and the artwork looks just like it looks with no plexiglass in front of it. However, non-glare plexiglass costs more than regular plexiglass, whether UV filtered or not. We suggest non-glare plexiglass when you are hanging your posters in an area with lots of direct lighting, for example lighting from track lighting or high intensity lights pointing directly at the framed poster.
Most importantly, you never clean it with an ammonia-based product that is highly abrasive. Usually, plexiglass has been polished when you get your frame job, so you can just save old t-shirt material and every so often give it a dust. If something were to get stuck on it, you could use a little water. Beyond that you can buy yourself a bottle of plastic of plexiglass cleaner at your local hardware store or art store. This cleaner works great on your television and computer monitors since it is an anti-static solution. We also offer bottles for purchase on our website.
Yes, you certainly can. You can go to art stores, hardware stores, etc. and buy all the materials to do the framing yourself. But remember, the story of the retail framers who buy archival materials in small quantities and thus pay top dollar for them. A large part of our customer base is people that used to do just that, frame their posters themselves. Most of them could not afford the cost of the UV filtered plexiglass so they used glass, many to disastrous consequences. They bought pre-made metal sides that were only made as large as 40", so for their 41" posters they either folded back or trimmed off the extra inch to make it fit. We are constantly sending posters to the linen backer to restore the extra inch that so many of our customers trimmed off when trying to fit their poster into a 40" frame leg. Because of the volume of materials we buy and the fact that we offer framing at wholesale prices, one couldn't buy the materials and do it themselves for even close to the cost of a completely custom cut archival frame from our company. We encourage customers not to take our word for it, but to call around in their own hometowns and check for themselves! We have customers who buy our Archival Frames that have previously bought from local retailers in their own areas. They tell the retail frame shop about us and are told that for that low cost, it has to be a cheap plastic frame. When their frames arrive and they take them in for the local retailer to check out, the retailer is on the phone to us to inquire how we can make that frame in those archival materials for such a low price. It is because we buy about one hundred fifty, 4'x8' sheets, or more of UV filtered plexiglass a month. That's the plain and simple truth of it. It is all about quantity pricing!
Hopefully we have answered many of the questions that you are faced with when caring for and framing your movie poster collection, collectables and photographs. We are always available for questions or comments so please don't hesitate to call.