Poster Conservation & Poster Restoration

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Poster Plus began doing poster conservation work in 1975 for our own vintage inventory, and since 1989 our services have been widely used by collectors, galleries and museums. Our work is represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pritzker Military Library, The Yale Center for British Art, The Chicago History Museum, The Polish Museum of America, The Library of Congress, and the Tibbals Learning Center of the Ringling Museum and important private collections.

The backing of posters with fabric dates back to 19th century France, where posters were occasionally glued to linen for reinforcement. This provided some protection, but with the passage of time the paper continued to become brittle and was frequently torn by stress. Modern backing techniques have eliminated this problem by using an acid free paper between the poster and the fabric. We use a #12 weight cotton artist’s canvas as our backing fabric. The adhesive used is wheat paste treated to inhibit mold growth.

* All work is done with the utmost caution and consideration of the art involved. However, we are frequently dealing with unknowns as to how the paper was manufactured or handled, including but not limited to the printing, chemicals and adhesion to other materials. Incidental damage from these problems is not the responsibility of Poster Plus. Customers agree that all procedures are performed at the sole risk of the customer and Poster Plus is not liable for any damage or loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why fabric-back a poster?

A: The principal reason is to provide support for the paper. It also enables the conservator to flatten the folds and to more easily make repairs. It is our experience that japan paper backing alone (common in parts of Europe and among museum conservators) does not offer sufficient support and over time folds may reappear and stress the poster. Fabric backing also eliminates the waviness that can occur when the poster is framed.

Reversibility is a concept that is important in all conservation work, because today’s curators and collectors are only temporary custodians of a cultural object (the poster) that will have continuing and timeless interest for future collectors. We strive to make certain that materials and techniques that are applied to the poster are not harmful over time and are reversible to bring it back to the state in which we found it.

Restoration can dramatically improve the appearance of a poster (see example below). Damage caused by clear adhesive tape, residual stains, water marks and dirt can be easily repaired; combining this with the replacement of lost paper can bring the poster back to virtually its original state.

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Q: Will linen-backing my original posters decrease their value?

A: Just the opposite. When handled by a professional conservationist, mounting or encapsulating original posters and documents can help prevent future deterioration of your piece. Over time, paper tends to be come brittle, fibers can lose their coloring along fold lines, and small tears can be exacerbated by constant handling.

At Poster Plus, our conservation lab has well over 30 years of preserving, and restoring vintage posters. When you conserve your poster, you are maintaining its value, and often – increasing it as well.

Q: I have had an original poster since college, but I made the mistake of taping it to the wall – its decades later – can anything be done to fix it?

A: We are able to offer a great number of conservation services at Poster Plus. Often posters and documents are turned away at other conservation labs due to tape or adhesive residue – at Poster Plus, we can remove nearly any type of adhesive, just drop-off, ship or messenger your poster to us, and we will be happy to give you a free estimate.

Q: I wanted to get my original poster framed – do I really need to have it conserved first?

A: At Poster Plus, we recommend that customers who are considering framing their original or collectible posters also consider conservation. Each poster is considered on a case by case basis, due to difference in acidity and paper type.

All too often we see posters ruined by inexperienced framers who improperly attach posters to an acidic backing or glue posters to the frame backing. Here at Poster Plus, we mount posters and documents to an acid-free paper with a linen backing – which ensures your poster maintains its value for as long as you choose to enjoy it.

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Q: My poster is in bad shape – it has missing paper AND has water damage and stains on it – can these be removed?

A: At Poster Plus, we often restore documents and posters as well as preserve them. Bleaching is possible to remove water damage, foxing, and darkened lines along folds; however, as this sometimes requires that the entire document is immersed, this may results in very minimal, but irreversible color loss. Each poster is treated carefully and tested before this process.

We can also recreate missing segments of your poster – often gaps and tears cut across the center of the poster, marring the image. Our technicians and artisans can recreate the missing paper and image – often making the imperfections virtually unnoticeable. This process is reversible [by a professional] and does not detract from the value of your poster – in fact, it usually increases its value and salability.

Q: We have a frame shop in the Chicago-land area; do you offer your services to local framers on behalf of their customers?

A: Poster Plus works with many local – and out of state – framers on conservation for their customers. We offer free personalized brochures for your clients with your shop’s contact information. Just drop-off, ship, or messenger the poster to us, and we can ship it back to your shop once it is completed.

We can also offer a pricing sheet for standard mounting – and if you need a more detailed estimate, just give us a call.

For more information, contact us!

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