Putting Important Documents into a Picture Frame

Picture frames are not just for displaying pictures, you can also highlight important and historical documents. This can be your grandpa’s discharge papers from the civil war, a handwritten diagram of the family tree (from three generations ago), your great-grandparents’ love letters, the diploma you spent a lot of sleepless nights to earn or that autographed note from your favorite celebrity.

Rather than keeping these documents inside the filing cabinet, why not enjoy them by putting them on display? You can share your enjoyment with loved ones and friends as they view it from an area of prominence in your home.

Here are some tips when framing important documents:

  • Choose a matching frame. If you are framing an ancient document, use a frame that will complement it, such as a vintage picture frame. The frame’s classic design will best match the document. A contemporary frame will only clash with the document and detract from the document that you want to highlight. In contrast, an antique picture frame will provide the ideal background for the ancient (but treasured) piece of parchment.
  • Consider going digital. If your document is a priceless and irreplaceable piece, you can scan the document, print it using the best printing settings and put this facsimile on display. Then, you can keep the original document in a temperature-controlled storage facility where it can be kept safe and away from potential sources of damage.
  • Use archival material. Now, if you really prefer to display the original document, you can still take careful measures to ensure that the document has the protection it needs and deserves. First, choose glazing with museum-quality protection. This includes a high level of UV protection to prevent the ancient ink from fading due to the damage caused by the UV rays of the sun, and even of artificial light. If you desire, you can also choose glazing that has anti-distortion properties, to ensure viewing clarity. The glazing should also be shatterproof, so that even if the picture frame falls from the place where it is hung, the document will not be damaged by any broken glass. Second, use acid-free archival framing components. The materials that will be in contact with the document such as the backing board, the matting boards and mounting boards should be acid-free. This is particularly important because ancient documents are already fragile and more brittle.
  • Carefully clean the documents prior to framing. Clear the document of any dust and debris so that you can best highlight the document when it is framed. Because of the value of the document, exercise utmost care when cleaning the document. Wear surgical gloves to minimize the transfer of oils from your fingers as you handle the document. Gently brush away dust and dirt from the surface of the document with the use of document cleaning powder. The powder will gently lift the debris and oil from the paper. You can also use a vinyl block eraser to gently erase any impurities. If there are sections that have dirt deposits (such as rust or dried out insect parts), pick up a razor blade or scalpel. Use the tip to gently pick off the surface deposit. Remember, do this carefully so as not to tear the paper. If you need to tape a section of the document, never use ordinary tape. Use the acid-free version instead. However, there are times when you just need to leave the document as is. For instance, if you use an eraser on a section of the document, this section will look whiter than the rest. If the document has bits of glue or has an old tape attached, trying to remove the glue or tape can cause tearing. Also, documents that use charcoal or pencil lead may be damaged from your cleaning efforts.
  • Choose the area where you will hang the framed document. The ideal spot will be somewhere where there is no direct exposure to sunlight and where there is minimal exposure to extreme temperatures. Do not place the frame near the fireplace or the air conditioning vents.
19th Feb 2016 Eric Morgan

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