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By Sue Heim


As many of you know, the bottom line in all of the articles I write regarding the framing of movie posters or other collectable paper is that the poster be sandwiched between genuine 1/8” thick UV filtered plexiglass and some kind of acid free backing. Glass and cardboard are not recommended!!

The frame is for looks and has nothing to do with the preservation of the poster.

In many of my articles, I give specific brand names for products to be used and while there are many brands of acrylic, UV filtered plexiglass, and acid free backing for the consumer to choose from, I choose the product brands I use based on experience and what I feel is the best products and combinations of products available for our particular type of collectable. In choosing those products, I take into consideration many factors, most importantly the product’s effectiveness and the price. I reiterate over and over that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to frame and protect your valuable paper.

While there are other issues that I address often, such as whether spacers should be used or whether the poster should be mounted to the backing board (SEE: Framing Questions and Answers)

I am constantly asked how to deal with oversize paper, such as three sheets, six sheets, and French and Italian oversize posters.

Basically, they are no different than a one sheet as far as preservation is concerned, just bigger. So the same rules apply, a high grade of acrylic, preferably 1/8” thick UV filtered plexiglass and acid free backing, preferably Artcare by Neilson & Bainbridge.

Artcare is a product that is not only 100% acid free, but has ingredients in it that neutralize the acids present in the actual paper the poster was printed on and/or the fabric the poster was linenbacked on. Remember, these posters weren’t meant for you and I as collectors, but for advertising, and not typically printed on the best paper around.

There are a few framing details that are different to oversize pieces depending on the frame that is chosen. Many of my customers want to frame oversize posters but due to the size of them, more framing materials are needed.

It takes more labor for the framer to frame an oversize piece, so the long and the short of it is that it costs a lot more to frame this big pieces.

In general, most acrylic and/or UV filtered plexiglass comes in 4’x8’ sheets, or 48”x96”. For a 41”x81” (approximate) three sheet and a 47”x63” (approximate) French poster, this size is fine. But for a Italian poster that is 55”x78” (approximate) or a 81”x81” six sheet, this size of plexiglass won’t work.

There are a few companies out there that still make a piece of plexiglass that is 60”x100”, but it is hard to find. About two years ago, most of the big plexiglass companies stopped making overize plexiglass that is UV filtered. In addition, for items over 48”x96” (the standard plexiglass sheet), you often have to special order the piece of plexiglass.

It is not uncommon for a sheet of special ordered plexiglass for a six sheet to cost several hundred dollars, and it isn’t even UV filtered, and that is why I get calls all the time from people all over the country telling me they have been quoted $2500 and up to frame a six sheet in a modest frame. It is because these oversize materials are so costly for the framer to get ahold of or have special made. Remember, most retail frame shops don’t carry acrylic or UV filtered plexiglass in their normal inventory, so they have to order it, even if it is a small piece for a one sheet.

Because they don’t order in large quantities, they are not generally getting a discount and obviously, neither is their customer.

Because these posters are so large and take more materials and labor to frame, most customers want to frame them as inexpensively as possible. That usually means using a metal frame, but one sturdy enough to house the size and the weight of these large pieces.

However, you can really only use a sturdy metal frame on something of the size of a three sheet and a French poster at most. Italian posters that are 55”x78” and six sheets are really too large to frame in a metal frame. You have to go into a wood frame for these huge pieces and it can’t be some little skimpy wood frame, it should be at least 2”-2 ½” in width and be a hard wood.

Wood frames are put together differently than metal. They are put together with glue and nails, while metal frames are typically put together with a metal bracket with flat screws. So, you need a sturdy hardwood frame for these giant oversize piece.

There are some tips to remind the framer when framing these oversize pieces.

*When using a metal frame, make sure you tell your framer to put “stress” wires on the back of the frame.

*Stress wires can even be used on the back of wood frames.

*A metal frame will have a hanging wire on it so you can hang it up. There should also be a wire on the back of the frame from the bottom leg to the top leg, so that when you go to hang up your piece, you don’t get bowing of the top and the bottom leg from the weight of the overall piece.

*When you hang any frame by a hanging wire, make sure you hang it with two nails or hooks placed about 3” in from either side. This anchors your frame on the wall better so that you don’t always have to straighten it up. More importantly, it takes the pull off of the two side legs so your poster, inside the frame, has more room to breathe when the humidity changes and posters “swell” up a bit.

*If you are using a wood frame, tell your framer not to wire it horizontally but to put hanging straps on the side legs of the frame pointing upward.

*Hang your frame with two hooks or nails from those hanging straps. Once again, that takes the load off of those two side legs. This hanging procedure is a must with the oversize pieces.

*Tell the framer to put “L” brackets on the backs of each corner of the frame for extra support.

*For larger pieces, like six sheets and Italian 55”x78”, you might suggest to the framer to build an inner support frame for added sturdiness. That is, the framer builds a wooden square that sits inside the back of the frame and gets nailed to the main frame to add support to the overall framed piece.

For many years, one of the reasons collectors have stayed away from oversize pieces is the cost of framing them in addition to their hard to handle size. Many homes in America were not built with walls able to handle a three sheet or six sheet. However, in recent times, we have seen oversize posters become more desirable to the collectors. Still, framing them is expensive. I have customers who have oversize pieces that either they can’t afford to frame or the piece itself doesn’t warrant a thousand dollar and up frame job.

One of the ways that I have suggested to display oversize posters without going to the high cost of framing them is to have them linenbacked and have the linenbacker leave about 3”-4” of excess fabric all the way around the poster. Then have someone put grommets in each corner and if the piece is really large, put a grommet in the middle of each side.

Then you can get some decorative chain from Home Depot or your local hardware store and hang your piece down the wall from the ceiling like a tapestry. When doing this, there is a tendency for the bottom of the poster to want to curl upward.

Take a wooden dowel cut just slightly less than the width of the poster and place it behind the bottom back of the linen. Take a metal washer (to cover the grommet) and a screw and go through the front grommets into the dowel behind the fabric. That will hold the dowel in place and act as a weight to hold the linenbacked piece flat against the wall or at least stop it from curling upward.

Now, you have to be careful because, obviously, the poster is exposed to the elements (and small children’s fingers). I would not advise doing this hanging style for a really valuable poster.

The last option for saving money is to do it yourself and I would only advise this if your poster is not particularly a valuable one.

Most Home Depots around the country carry acrylic. Remember, acrylic comes in 48”x96” sheets, however, many of the Home Depots only carry 48”x48” sheets (I’m sure for storage reasons).

You can call a local framer and ask them for the metal frame and foamcore components, with the hardware needed to assemble the frame and put on stress wires.

Before you do so, make sure you carefully measure your poster. Take four measurements, one across the top, one across the bottom, one down the right side and one down the left side.

Posters, especially linenbacked ones, are not always perfectly square. So, take the larger of the measurements, both vertically and horizontally,( ie. The top of the poster measure 41 1/8” while the bottom of the poster measures 41 ¼”, use the larger measurement 41 ¼”).

See, this framing business isn’t as easy as it looks!!

So, once you’ve got all the components, you too can be a framer and do it yourself. Just follow my initial instructions, especially about stress wires.

Now, as always, you can call me directly and I will be more than happy to help you and walk you through any of the options you choose.

For those of you who live in the southern California area, I can build your frames for you and at a wholesale price.

For instance, I charge $250 to totally custom frame a three sheet, 41”x81”, in the top of the line 1/8” thick UV filtered plexiglass that has additional filters for indoor lights such as fluorescent, incandescent, and tungsten lighting, ¼” museum conservation Artcare backing in a custom frame, ready to hang.

For those of you who are framing at your local frame store, that gives you an idea of the wholesale price, so if someone quotes you $1000 to frame your three sheet, you know you are being hustled unless you have chosen a solid gold frame.

In addition, for all your other posters such as one sheets, half sheets, inserts, etc., you can either go to my website or call me directly to order the custom frames at wholesale directly from me. I ship all over the continental U.S. I even have a “Economy” one sheet frame that includes the UV filtered plexiglass, all custom made up to 27"x41" or 30" x 40", for $49 each.

Please always feel free to call me directly. I have been a movie poster collector myself for over 30 years and I am always happy to talk to fellow collectors. Good Luck and Happy Collecting !!!

Sue Heim
(800) 463-2994


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