Proper Framing of Historical Documents, Autographs and other Antique Paper

Specializing in historical autographs, prints and maps for over 30 years, it has been my pleasure of handling and framing these important items for collectors and dealers.

The thrill of seeing, owning and framing these amazing historical artifacts is enough to get you goosebumps up your spine.  Yes, even after all these years, I never tire of these fascinating documents and letters

When you hold a document signed by Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony or George Washington, you are actually viewing a document these famous people touched, viewed and signed.  How incredible is that?  Wow!

Being that these pieces of paper are historical, one of a kind and valuable, its important these items are framed very carefully and that the framer can be trusted in using the proper materials and techniques. 

Any inferior methods employed by the framer can be harmful to your document and lessen its value and aesthetics.  Please understand this as I have been framing for over 30 years and I have seen documents and other important items get damaged from improper framing.  

Ferdinand and Isabella Framed Documents from 1400s

As a matter of fact, I have encountered items framed through several autograph dealers where their framer has used harsh tapes, non UV glass or acrylic or non archival matting.  Historical, political, and contemporary autographs never expert attention when framing to ensure they are protected from the elements.

It is very important that one entrust the framing of these antique and valuable items to genuine expert framers who have demonstrated many years of the knowledge and experience in caring and displaying these items.  When framing early and fragile items, reversibility in framing is critical when preparing these items for display. 

Reversibility means the item can be removed from the frame without harm or negative effects.  A document signed by Thomas Jefferson, for example, needs to be protected from harmful UV light, acid borne matting and environmental factories like heat and humidity.  The first two can be controlled by a framer with proper knowledge. The last two depend on you.

Abraham Lincoln Signed Document during Civil War

Deterioration, fading and discoloring from poor framing can rarely, if ever, be reversed.  And, if it can be partially reversed, it would be at a very considerable expense. 

There is no reason why one should trust anyone with the care, handing and framing of these unique documents to just anyone.  Due your due diligence to ensure proper framing of these precious items.  Why pay some to harm your documents, antique paper or any other artifact you want framed. Doesn't make sense?

Preparing a letter, document or photograph for display in a frame with museum grade materials will give the owner many years of enjoyment.  In this framing collage, we engraved a biographical plaque on brass describing the author and his history.  We used 100% cotton rag matting, safe reversible mounting materials and museum quality glazing.  Not following strict procedures can harm your document/letter and eventually lessen the value.

Before getting your item framed, make sure you follow the following steps: 1) Know your framer.  Has he or she truly demonstrated knowledge in the proper techniques in conservation framing?  Don't just accept the usual buzz words anyone can look up.  Make sure the framer really explains the methods in explanation and writing. 2) Inspect their framing area.  Are preservation quality materials in clear sight?  Does the work area seem organized and the artwork in good care? and, lastly, 3) What kind of items does the frame shop have in their shop? 

The framing staff should be knowledgeable with framed important personal and historical items on display.  This will say a lot about their customer base and their experience.

In the end, do research before agreeing on a framer.  Make sure there is real experience behind the framer and a genuine concern for your collectibles.  After all, you are paying hard earned money for the framer's services and you are entitled to what you are buying.