Please Exercise Caution When Framing Your Important Art And Artifacts

Of the over 30 years I have been in framing, it amazes me how framers treat, mount and frame art and artifacts for people who patronize them.  On a weekly basis, it's not unusual for someone to contact me through email or phone informing me of a recently framed item which shows signs of deterioration.

Recently, a woman called me to ask me my opinion on a rare map she bought framed by a known gallery.  She gave me permission to remove it from the frame to examine it.

Knowing antique and rare maps, this particular example was a rare 1862 E.G. Arnold's map of Washington, D.C., which depicted the Nation's Capital at the outset of the Civil War.  These are large maps (approx. 30x33") which were designed by Arnold, a civil Engineer.  Seasoned collectors and expert dealers know the value and rarity of a highly sought after map as this and are always looking for prime examples.

When removing the map package from the frame, the owner and I noticed the map was very firmly glued to the backing.  This is a tragedy as this framing treatment diminishes the value and creates irrevocable damages to the maps. 

We also noticed the glass was not archival quality.  A map with original color and detail can also suffer when not protected with true museum grade glass.  Just think of the daily exposure of the sun and/or other lighting and the harmful effects when not preserved through proper glazing.

The matting was also glued to the foam backing, both of which are no no's.  First, the matting should never be glued to the backing and secondly, the backing should never be foamcore board, not even so called "acid free" board.

Foamcore will outgas and discolor showing the rapid release of acidic pollutants in the framing package, including the map.  Being trapped in an inferior framing package will accelerate the deterioration of the map.

This extreme example of poor framing is not exclusive to the seller/framer of this antique map, but is widespread in the framing industry, especially arts and crafts chain stores, also known as big box stores.

Our framing business, Museum Framing, is regularly called by people who have had bad results when having their valuable items framed by these stores.  They usually don't notice until much later when the framed artwork is hanging on display and they visually pick up on the change.

It also has been my experience, through speaking with customers visiting my business or contacting me through email or phone, that their prices are higher than mine.  Even with the "discount" coupon.

How can that be?  It's called high overhead of these mega stores.  Saving a few percent more when buying in quantity does not negate the very high cost to lease such a large space.  But, I digress!

When you get something that's important framed, always ensure they are using the correct materials, techniques and can easily explain these to you without hesitation.

After all, you are paying good money for good framing, right?