Every day I receive phone calls and emails from many
of you all over the country. Many are from newer collectors
that have come into the hobby at a time when so much
conflicting information is out there, 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 go up dramatically
in the last few years. Wanting to protect and preserve
their movie poster investment, all collectors are re-evaluating
posters they have already had framed or are about to
frame. As a wholesale picture framer and a poster collector
myself, I deal with these issues daily. Here are some
of the questions most frequently asked of me regarding
framing of collectible posters along with answers and
suggestions to assist you.
PLEASE REMEMBER, MY ANSWERS ARE BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCES
IN FRAMING ORIGINAL MOVIE & MILITARY POSTERS FOR
25 YEARS. OTHER FRAMERS MAY TELL YOU DIFFERENT. MY BEST
ADVICE IS TO USE YOUR OWN COMMON SENSE.
Why does it cost so much to frame
a military poster?
is the most commonly asked question of me. My answer
is that it doesn't have to. You can frame a movie poster
in quality materials without paying an arm and a leg.
Having said that, I explain that most retail frame shops
work on a large markup. Obviously, many retail stores
have a large overhead and all that has to be built into
the cost of your frame. In addition, many retail frame
shops are not use to framing collectible movie posters.
To them, it is nothing more than an oversize poster
and often gets framed accordingly. This is where we
run into problems. I have people who call me everyday
to say, they paid $250 and up to frame a large poster
and it's not even in archival materials. Often the framer
had glued their poster to cardboard, trimmed the poster
down to fit some standard size materials on hand, or
the customer was told they had to use spacers and that
would be about $50-$75 more.
I have had customers tell me of frame shops they went
to where they were told if they did not frame their
poster in the manner suggested, the establishment could
not be responsible for future damage to the poster.
Well that's enough to scare any collector. In my opinion,
that is a bit of consumer blackmail at work. Framing
anything is a basic exercise. 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.
there is a way that we at www.hollywoodposterframes.com
can sell a totally archival, custom cut frame for your
poster, whether linenbacked or not. Remember, though,
I am selling it to you for wholesale cost. I have retail
shops who buy these frames from me and mark them up
3-4 times before they sell them in their stores. Because
I do the framing for the studio's here in Los Angeles
and ship custom frames for movie & military posters
to customers all over the country, I buy very large
quantities of materials. The 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 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 start at about $150 per
piece. It's the same with archival backing materials.
Once the frame store, who orders very small quantities
of these archival materials, adds their markup to those
materials, the price of your frame job just went through
the roof. We at www.hollywoodposterframes.com make the
archival framing available to you at wholesale, because
as collectors ourselves, that leaves more money available
to buy another movie poster!!
What is necessary in a frame to protect my military
most important components in framing your movie posters
to protect them and preserve their longevity are what's
in front of the poster and what's behind the poster.
The frame itself is mostly for aesthetics and has little,
if any, bearing on the preservation of your poster.
In my opinion, glass, whether regular or conservation,
is a no-no. Glass breaks and for that reason alone,
it should not be used on valuable collectibles. Moreso,
regular glass has no conservation aspects at all. Regular
glass accelerates fading having 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 military poster collected
is still large and the risk of glass breakage is high.
Also, the weight factor in glass adds to the risk. I
see it all the time as customers bring in 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. I get movie
posters in all the time that have gotten moisture inside
the frame and they are now stuck to the glass. Unfortunately,
they have to be scraped off the glass and restored.
I 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 linenbacked 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 for wholesale on my website, www.hollywoodposterframes.com
includes all the components you would need to frame
and display your collectible military posters.
Should I use spacers?
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 linenbacked 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
linenbacked or not, will move forward into that space,
usually causing major rippling and buckling. Paper has
a memory and often that buckling is permanent, so that
if you remove the buckled poster from the frame, you
have to have it linenbacked or re-linenbacked to get
it to be flat again.
Can I use corrugated cardboard behind
my military poster?
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 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. I 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 which is much more
absorbent than the glossy stock used for current movie
posters. They will absorb the acid from the cardboard
faster than anything and since it is typically the vintage
posters that are more valuable, cardboard would not
be a viable product.
Why can't I buy a ready made frame
for my military poster at my local Walmart?
posters are not standard sizes in the readymade framing
world. Readymade frames are typically based on photographic
sizes. However, with military poster collecting becoming
so popular over the last few years, there are a few
larger chain stores and even a couple of internet sites
that offer regular sized frames. However, these are
mass produced and usually made of inferior products
for display only, not for protecting your posters from
harmful acid decay.
www.hollywoodposterframes.com we sell an Economy Frame
in a one sheet size for $ wholesale, which includes
the UV filtered plexiglass and ¼" white
foamcore and a custom cut satin black frame. Since we
custom cut every frame, we have each customer hand measure
the poster they will be installing in the frame before
we cut it. That way if you have an odd poster, for example
a reproduction military poster, that is under 27x41,
we cut it to it's actual size so your poster fits perfectly.
No having to center the poster in the frame or uneven
Do all my frames need to match?
is a question only you can answer. For most of my studio
accounts and many of my collectors across the country,
satin black is the most popularly ordered color. Many
of my customers feel the need for consistency, since
the posters themselves are already somewhat busy. However,
I do have many collectors who frame according to the
poster itself. For instance, many of my customers who
collect western posters use the satin bronze color for
their frame of choice.
Is a wood frame better than a metal
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 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.
Do I frame a paperbacked or linenbacked
not at all. 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 overcut the
frame at least 1/8" bigger than the actual poster,
whether linenbacked, paperbacked, or not. This is for
a couple of reasons. I 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, which the
humidity changes. The poster needs room to "breathe"
or it can begin rippling or buckling in the frame. Some
rippling is common just 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 overcut
to accommodate poster changes, when the poster "breathes"
it will have no space to move into and 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
linenbacked. A linenbacked poster is not immune from
this problem also, even though it has more substance
than a non linenbacked poster. If it buckles or ripples
too severely, often you have to have it re-linenbacked
to get the poster to lay flat again.
How do I get rid of wrinkles from
fold lines, etc?
you are the type of collector that likes to have their
posters lay perfectly flat in the frame and look like
it just rolled off the press, you have no choice but
to linenback and restore. However, linenbacking 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 I use to install
folded movie posters in the frame. First off, I do a
light reverse fold on the fold lines. 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, also. Remember, tension in the paper has
been released at the fold lines. When you flatten it
out, it may now be larger than it's original non-folded
size. This is very common when linenbacking posters.
I have had posters sent to me to frame that upon linenbacking
stretched out an additional inch or so in each direction
not counting the excess linen that is left around the
When should I linenback or paperback
is another one of those questions that only you can
make the decision on. There are reasons that we linenback
or paperback a poster. Linenbacking is usually done
because some sort of restoration is going to also be
done to the poster. Generally, when a poster is linenbacked,
the restorer also does a cleaning and deacidification
process. The linenbacking or paperbacking 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 is
in archival framing, any further decay is virtually
stopped. Some customers have their current rolled movie
posters linenbacked because they want them to look at
perfect as possible in the frame. Some collectors feel
that linenbacking devalues the poster. All is up for
debate. Remember, linenbacking is an expensive venture.
So, determine your own reasons for linenbacking. Also,
with the rise in military poster prices over the last
5-7 years and many more collectors coming into the hobby,
there has been an incredible rise in the number of linenbackers
available out there. As a collector myself, I can't
emphasize enough how important your choice of linenbacker/restorer
is. Even though I am somewhat partial to the framing
end of my collection, being a conservation picture framer,
I know as a collector, there is no one more important
to the life of your posters than who you choose to linenback/restore
them. Find out years of experience, get referrals, ask
questions, shop around. Don't always go with the cheapest
in this case. Talk to poster dealers of longstanding.
Ask who they use. In many cases, these posters are worth
thousands of dollars. I offer a service through my own
company www.hollywoodposterframes.com for linenbacking/restoration
on my own wholesale account. Remember, inform yourself
the best you can by asking lots of questions and when
in doubt, use your own common sense.
I trim off the excess linen from my poster before I
the old days, linenbackers would often return your restored
poster to you trimmed right to the edge of the original
poster. In more recent years, many linenbackers leave
a small amount of excess linen around the poster. This
is done for several reasons. One is that 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 linenbacked poster you have a little excess linen
to grab instead of the actual poster paper. I'm sure
there are a few other reasons we could think of, but
I think 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, because it
will be sitting behind the mat and you won't see it.
Which brings us to the reason for this question. Many
collectors do not like to see the excess linen in the
frame. Typically, it is not the same color as the actual
poster paper and to some, it looks odd. Also, not all
linenbackers 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 me
personally and for a large contingency of my customers
who prefer not to see the excess linen, when framing,
I trim the linen down to about ¼" all the
way around. That way, I 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 and I
will never see it. It is a personal choice. I have a
few customers who believe that trimming down the excess
linen devalues the posters. My "common sense"
tells me since the linen was not part of the original
poster, how can it devalue the poster. Also, I know
from having been in this hobby for 30 years that if
you have a valuable 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 linenbacked years before leaving
excess linen was done, would be of lesser value. I don't
believe that to be the case. I still buy posters today
that were trimmed right up to the edge of the paper.
Again, this is one of those topics debated frequently.
Should I mount my poster to a board
is commonly felt that mounting a movie poster to a mounting
board or matboard or such, devalues the 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. I 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 linenbacking,
but they want their poster to lay perfectly flat in
the frame. Therefore it is important to consider than
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 linenback the poster. Reversing a mounted
poster is something that can be done by most linenbacker/restorers.
What if I want to swap out my posters
in the frames?
frames I build for my company www.hollywoodposterframes.com
are specifically made for just that purpose. This is
a common situation with many poster collectors also.
When you consider the frame you will choose to display
your posters, this is something you might want to consider
and that is the ease of swapping out posters in the
do I get rid of glare on my framing?
we have already talked about glass being a no-no in
poster framing, we can now address the types of acrylics
and plexiglass that is available for your frame. 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, I was not a
big proponent of non-glare glass. This was because when
you laid it on the poster, it gave a bit of a grey cast,
dissipated color and took the poster slightly out of
focus. This was the tradeoff, however, to get a non-glare
product. A few years back, the company I buy my plexiglass
from came out with a non-glare product that is actually
true view, which means you don't get glare from the
lighting in front of the frame and the poster 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. I only suggest
non-glare plexiglass when you are hanging your posters
in an area with lots of directing lighting, say, from
track lighting or high intensity lights pointing directly
at the framed poster.
What do I clean my plexiglass with?
off, you never clean it with an ammonia based product
which 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 in your local
hardware store or art store. This cleaner works great
on your t.v. and computer monitors also since it is
typically an anti-static solution.
Can I frame my posters myself?
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 good part of my customer
base are people that use 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 disasterous 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. I am constantly
sending posters to the linenbacker to restore the extra
inch that so many of my customers trimmed off when trying
to fit their poster into a 40" frame leg. Because
of the volume of materials I buy and the fact that I
sell the framing for wholesale, you couldn't buy the
materials and do it yourself for even close to the cost
of a completely custom cut archival frame from my company.
I encourage customers not to take my word for it, but
to call around in their own hometowns and check for
themselves. I have customers who buy archival frames
from me who have previously bought from local retailers
in their own areas. They tell the retail frame shop
about us and they 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 me to inquire how
I can make that frame in those archival materials for
so low of a price. I usually tell him it is because
I buy about 150+ 4'x8' sheets of UV filtered plexiglass
a month. That's the plain and simple of it, it is all
about quantity pricing.
I hope I have answered many of the questions that you
are faced with when caring for and framing your poster
collection. I am always available for questions or comments
so please don't hesitate to call me directly.