Preserving Vintage Posters
by Bob Brooke
art, music and political posters can be fun to collect, but the fun
quickly disappears if you fail to preserve a poster by not taking
care of it properly. It’s quite easy to do this and doesn’t cost a
whole lot to preserve a poster properly.
The first thing to be aware of is that movie studios created posters
to be disposable when the film’s promotional campaign finished. And
because posters were disposable, printers often used the cheapest
quality ink and paper With paper goods, the poorer the quality of
the paper, the easier it gets damaged. Vintage posters are highly
collectible and their value will continue to rise if you protect
your poster from the elements that can destroy it.
Some of the things that are harmful to any type of paper collectible
include moisture—both humidity and water damage—heat, which makes
paper brittle and brown, light, which fades colors, acidity, which
disintegrates paper, and insects which can eat through it. You must
protect your posters from all of them. Any weakness in any of these
areas will affect the value and longevity of your collection.
First, you need to decide if you intend to frame it for display or
just store it safely.
a Poster by Storing It
If you just want to safely store your vintage posters, it's good to
keep them flat, in acid-free sleeves. Acid-free sleeves preserve
your posters from dust, moisture and critters. Storing them rolled
up is another option, particularly if you don’t have the space to
store your posters flat. Be sure to use acid-free tubes to preserve
the rolled-up posters.
Don’t store your posters stacked deep unless you seal them together
with plastic like shrink-wrap. Remember posters left open will
accumulate dust and moisture which will damage them.
a Poster by Framing It
Light is one of paper's worst enemies. So to preserve your poster in
frames, use UV-resistant glass or Plexiglas to eliminate most of the
damage sunlight and florescent lights will cause.
Always use acid-free matting and backing when preserving a poster in
a frame. Regular matting and backing with acid will actually eat
away at your poster.
To preserve a poster in a frame without matting, use a molding to
allow room for a “spacer” to keep the glass or Plexiglas off the
poster. If a framed poster touches glass or Plexiglas, humidity can
become trapped causing the poster to eventually adhere to the glass.
Preserving a Rare Vintage Poster
preserve a rare poster, you can have it backed with linen by a
professional conservator. You can also use this method to repair or
restore a valuable poster.
Preserving a poster with linen backing can be expensive. However, if
a poster has good linen backing it could increase the value
significantly even if it was in poor condition before being backed.
A linen-backed poster is one that’s archivally mounted to acid free
paper and canvas where it can be restored if needed. Fold lines and
other defects become less noticeable, sometimes even invisible. It
can be rolled for shipping and is ready for framing.
Back to Caring for Your Collections
Next Article >