Care and feeding of a Vintage Poster

February 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

In my last post, we talked about all of the new travel posters being shipped to our paper conservator. Today we follow up on the question “What happens to the posters on paper?

The conservator receives the posters and measures and evaluates them.  They look for tears, creases, foxing (mold) tape and other imperfections, and then they send us an estimate of costs to mount and restore the posters.

We prefer to buy posters in ‘A’ condition- those that need no restoration, but that is not always possible.  Paper builds up acid over time, it gets brown and brittle, and every time it is handled, there is risk of damage.  When posters are folded for years, the acid build up on the folds is noticeable, and the paper can tear easily on the fold.

Once approved, the posters are wet mounted.  They are washed and then mounted onto acid free paper and cotton duck fabric which has been stretched onto a frame.  The posters stay on the frame, where they cure.  Next, conservation artists get to work.  If a poster is missing paper, the conservator will trace the loss to create a template.  Then, they search for a paper match to fill in the loss.  They try to find paper scraps from the same time period and country as the poster they are restoring if possible.  The scrap will be trimmed using the template, and then pieced in.  Lastly, the piece in is colored using water color pens to blend it with the surrounding paper.

Good restoration should be visible.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to you, the buyer, and it should always be 100% water reversible.  Here at VEP, we work with the best conservators to ensure that every poster we find is restored to archival standard.


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