Archival Framing: 10 Best Recommendations to Protect your Autographs June 01 2021

As collectors and autograph dealers, we regularly come across framed historical photographs and documents, which have to be removed from the frame.


Archival framing is a type of work done to place your items in a frame (framing) using a certain quality of materials and methods.

Those materials and methods are of higher quality than regular or standard framing, and are there to ensure your framed items be better protected agains any degradation due to light, acidity and other agents.

We regularly find a variety of problems that repeat over and over (rust, fading, stains, use of inadequate tape, poor mounting, and more), which can be easily avoided if the collector makes the right choice of conservation framing shop and asks the right questions.

Here is a list with some top recommendations, and important things you should know, that will help you get the right archival framing your valuable collectibles deserve.

1) Framing your autographs correctly should not necessarily have a tremendous impact on the costs of material nor the work involved. It can, if you make more luxurious or expensive choices, but it does not have to be, so it should not be terribly more expensive doing things right than wrong.

Ernestine Schumann-Heink signed photo framed

German soprano Ernestine Schumann-Heink, signed cabinet photo, framed with a program clip. Framed with archival material including a dark green fabric-covered mat, with textured cotton, double top mat (green and gold), archival red matting behind.

2) Know your framer, ask the procedures and get explanations on methods and terms, and how your collectible will be framed. You are already doing your part by reading our articles!.

Make sure your choices of frame shops has a reputation in very good standing, so your requests for UV-protective glass or plexiglass and other requests are not only followed but you are told the truth of what you really get. You don't want to be lied about materials that were not used, something that happens more frequently than you think.

What kind of items is the frame shop regularly framing? Do they regularly frame historical documents and/or vintage photographs? Do they have archival quality materials in stock, or they need to do a special order for all or part of your order?. Evaluate the expertise of who will take care of framing your autographs.

The more research you do, the safer it will be for your collectibles. It always pays back to do your homework before choosing a framer, and speaking with them before you place an order.

3) Always frame your items with mat boards, never allow direct contact of any collectible with the glass or plexiglass. With time, they can get easily attached to the glass.

4) Order the right matting. Acid-free mat boards are sold as

rag mat

good for everything, while that is not always the case for autographs, not all that is sold as acid-free truly works as such for antique documents.

The bezel should never turn yellowish/rust with time.

We recommend you order museum-quality 100% cotton cellulose rag mats or similar, which are for archival use.

5) Autographs should be always mounted on archival material, such as the one mentioned above or archival corrugated cardboard. Never get your autographs mounted on other “acid-free” materials just like that, even if it is so-declared acid-free foamcore. 

Foamcore is a great material for backing board (closing the back of your frame contents), but should not be in direct contact with your autographs.

Make sure the right framing supplies, with the quality for archival framing will be used. Your collectible object is like a work of art that deserves archival framing and long life without any damage.

Archival-grade coroplast is a great material for backing. Coroplast Archival grade is a chemically inert, extremely durable polypropylene copolymer, extruded twin wall fluted plastic sheet free from additives such as coloring agents, antistatic and ultraviolet inhibitors.

6) Avoid non-glare glass as much as your budget can, it won't protect your collectibles from fading caused by light.

We recommend Tru Vue Conservation Clear glass, Tru Vue Museum Glass, Tru Vue Optium Museum Acrylic or similar acrylic if you choose acrylic over conservation quality glass when you are ordering your archival framing.

Tru Vue museum glass vs plain glass

Tru Vue museum glass vs plain glass

Remember that saving money can be easily deceiving, it may and probably will cost you in damage in your collectible autograph.

Don´t fall into the very common mistake of spending 10 thousand dollars on an autographed item and then 20 dollars in a cheap, plastic frame to save money. Cutting corners on the wrong things could cost you a lot.

7) No glass will protect you 100% against light, your first barrier of defense is to avoid locating your framed memorabilia near a window with direct sunlight.

8) Mounting your autographs should be done either with photo corners, or strips/hinges for archival use. No other type of tapes nor glue, ever. Japanese paper could be acceptable but archival strips or hinges are much preferred.

9) Book-hinge your matting, which means ask your framer

book-hinging mats

to add a piece of archival strip as a hinge or joint, in one border only, so you can lift the top board (with openings) and see your collectibles mounted on the bottom or mounting board. This will allow easy removal if needed, and will avoid having sticky tape all around borders.

10) Reversibility: your autographs should be mounted and displayed in such a way that it is easy to remove them, without any traces left by the framing process. 

Archival framing

Not respecting important rules in archival framing will impact on your autographs in a negative way by decreasing their value when you want to sell them. We hope this advice will help - Happy collecting!



- Museum Quality Mat Boarding

Damaged Photos: Guidelines to Types of Damage

- Autograph Framing Done Right: how to Frame Your Autographs Properly

- How to Protect your Autographs from Fading

- Ultimate Autographs: 10 Things that Make a Signed Photo Perfect

14 Awesome Picture Frame Ideas for your Valuable Collectibles

Photo Top Loaders - Safely Store your Collectible Autographs

Frame Shop Selection: Finding the Best Frame Shop for Your Autographs

Picture Frame Glass Options for your Paper Collectibles

The Ultimate Guide on How To Store Autographed Photos


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