PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION OF MOVIE POSTERS

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration

In this article, we will be covering the various options for the storage of your movie poster collection to ensure you preserve its condition. However, should the condition of your movie poster be deteriorating sufficiently over time we will be looking at linen backing, what is it and how will it protect your movie poster.

PRESERVATION GUIDE

RESTORATION GUIDE


MOVIE POSTER PRESERVATION
HOW TO SAFELY STORE AND PROTECT A MOVIE POSTER

In this section we will be discussing the best ways in which to store your movie poster collection and will cover rolled, folded and flat storage as well as the best way to store lobby cards.

The first rule in protecting a movie poster is handling, always ensure you handle the movie poster with care, clean hands and surface area. Accidentally, adding a fold, stain or tear will not only ruin the beauty of the movie poster but will have a detrimental effect on its value. When I am handling any of my posters, no matter of age, I always wear medical grade gloves which will prevent the transfer of any oils on my skin to the movie poster.

Before undertaking any form of storage it is important to make sure the movie poster is clean and free of any impurities such as dirt. The reason is that this could no matter the protection used cause a detrimental effect on the movie poster or lobby card. The best place to use for storage of movie posters is away from direct sunlight in a well-ventilated room without significant changes in temperature and humidity.

If the movie poster smells a bit musty, without any visible stains, you should place it in a well-ventilated room until the smell disappears then store the movie poster separately. If the movie poster has visible musty stains, you should isolate it in a separate storage solution and contact a professional restorer, we will be discussing restoration later in the article but you can read it now here.

HOW TO STORE FOLDED MOVIE POSTER

HOW TO STORE ROLLED MOVIE POSTER

HOW TO STORE FLAT MOVIE POSTER


HOW TO STORE FOLDED MOVIE POSTERS & LOBBY CARDS

There is common misconception among new collectors that folded movie posters are bad and should be rolled. Firstly, if the movie poster was and is originally folded store it that way. If you try to roll a folded poster you will add stress to the fold lines which could ultimately cause the paper to separate.

Having said that with folded movie posters every time you open and close a movie poster you are putting extra wear into the folds. If you will be handling or showing the movie poster on a regular basis then the best storage option would be flat storage. Due to the weakness of the folds, the movie poster has to be stored in an acid-free or pH neutral environment as acid (called acidic migration) will attack through the weakest points first, the folds.

In terms of a storage medium for folded movie poster you have two choices, they can be stored standing up in a box or laying flat. I wouldn’t recommend storing in its shipping packaging they arrived in as this will contain acids which will damage the movie posters. In a very similar manner to Framing Movie Posters I would always recommend acid-free storage materials as a minimum but it is preferable to use museum graded products.

Before placing them into the storage medium I would recommend placing them inside a plastic envelope made of polyethylene a museum grade archival polyester often referred to as a Mylar sleeve. These are available from local art shops or online from bagsunlimited.com, who I would highly recommend. Although a US based company they do ship to the UK but costs could be an issue, so it is worth ordering in bulk or with another collector to share the shipping costs.

Using museum grade archival polyester to store your folded movie posters could become expensive if you have a large movie poster collection, therefore, I would recommend you use the best grade you can afford for your most prized movie posters and the rest in as good as possible until you can replace them. Some people use a backing card in their envelopes to provide a more rigid storage solution. Personally I store my folded movie posters in mylar sleeves without a backing board as they are laying flat in a storage box.

The same principles and storage solutions also apply to lobby cards. You can also use presentation books made from polypropylene for lobby cards which provide a great was to carry and present the images. They can be view regularly without the need to touch them directly. I personally use these to store all my lobby cards.

IMPORTANT: You must store your folded movie posters in an area that is cool, dry and away from heat, humidity and direct sunlight.


HOW TO STORE ROLLED MOVIE POSTERS

When most collectors store a rolled movie poster they will have a large tube that they will use to store the movie poster in. When they purchase another, it gets added to the existing tube. This is fine for a collector who doesn’t want to view the poster regularly and is storing the movie poster to many years to come.

However, it has one flaw, no protection, the movie poster is being stored in a tube made of cardboard that is not even acid free let alone made with any sort of conservation in mind and over time will erode the paper. As a minimum they should be stored in good quality plastic tube which will offer a less acidic storage medium and increase the protection offered by the tubes.

As a means of short term storage individually placing the movie poster into a tube is a great idea. They can be stored laying flat on the ground or standing on an end. You can label the side of the tube with the movie posters title without the need to remove the movie poster each time to check.

For the long term you will need to you will need to consider the type of storage container you are going to use and how you will protect the movie posters inside the storage container of choice. When storing for the long term having one movie poster per tube is not practical due to the space it will occupy and therefore you will roll a group of movie posters together.

Movie poster tubes come in two varieties, square and round and they both offer different options depending on your chosen storage method either laying flat or standing on end.

  • Square poster tubes are easier to stack due to being square and not round. They can store a significant amount of movie posters in each tube. The storage box shown in the last image can hold 60-65 UK Quads in four equal compartments. These square tubes and boxes are available from bagsunlimited.com.
  • Round poster tubes don’t stack as well as the square variety but they stand well and due to the slightly smaller diameter are more popular as they can be hidden away better. These can be brought from most art and craft shops.

Once you have decided on the storage medium we can’t just put the movie posters in the tubes, we need to protect them first. The first thing to do is ensure the movie posters are clean, free of dirt and debris before rolling together. When rolling together it is important to make sure that the edges are together and that one movie poster is not prouder than the rest. If you have smaller sizes that are being rolled with a large size put them in the middle of the rolled movie posters.

Place the rolled movie posters into your storage sleeve made of polyethylene or a museum grade archival polyester. Roll the excess up and tape it closed, then do the same with the top. If the tube is longer than the movie posters being stored, which it should be, I also place some bubble wrap or tissue as the bottom of the tube to protect the ends of the movie posters. Place your wrapped movie posters into the tube and seal with the plastic end cap. If you have movement either side of the movie posters cut some cardboard strips and place down the sides to stop your movie posters moving around in the tube.


Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Rolled 1

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Rolled 5

IMPORTANT: You must store your rolled movie posters in an area that is cool, dry and away from heat, humidity and direct sunlight.


HOW TO STORE FLAT MOVIE POSTERS

By far the best way in which to safely store movie posters is flat. Storing this way provides an excellent storage medium but it must be done properly using the right materials you can’t just use any old box and throw the movie posters under your bed.

The first step is to decide how you will store each individual movie poster; are you going to seal each one, are you going to be using some form of backing and how many do you wish to store together. The best method is for each movie poster to be sealed in a mylar bag, with an acid-free backing board placed into a heavy duty flat box.

The flat storage boxes, backing boards and mylar bags are available from bagsunlimited.com.

Storing movie posters this way provides a better means of viewing your collection on a regular basis than being rolled. If you were to store the boxes standing up you will need to purchase a more rigid storage box and backing to prevent gravity taking effect, if you are laying them flat they will not require as much support.

IMPORTANT: You must store your flat movie posters in an area that is cool, dry and away from heat, humidity and direct sunlight.


MOVIE POSTER RESTORATION
WHAT IS LINEN BACKING

The process of linen backing is where a movie poster is mounted to linen or cotton. It helps to preserve the movie poster, make it more durable for handling and is used to repair damaged movie posters to their original condition.

When linen backing was first used for movie posters the backing would be 100% linen. Linen was used because it is soft and pliable but unfortunately very expensive. Today, most professional restorers use 100% cotton duct. Cotton duct is a canvas material which is stiffer than linen but costs a third of the price of linen. For extremely rare movie posters some restorers would still use linen.

A double mounting process is used for linen backing, where a sheet of acid-free Japanese rice paper is used between the movie poster and the cotton backing. The rice paper acts as a neutraliser between the movie poster and the cloth.

We have seen that when movie posters are linen backed for preservation purposes and are graded in a very good or better condition can command a higher price than an unbacked movie poster of the same title. As an example, on the 16th May 2017, eMoviePoster sold a ‘Style D’ Star Wars movie poster for $327 in a very good condition, the very same title but linen backed sold on 15th June 2017 for $545 again in a very good condition.


Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 8

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 7

If a movie poster is linen backed for restoration purposes, the value of the movie poster could rise significantly. As an example, on 28th August 2012, eMoviePoster sold a ‘Style A’ From Russia With Love movie poster for $71, the very same title but linen backed sold on 16th September 2014 for $375. By having the movie poster professionally restored and linen backed, the value of the movie poster could increase back to market value.


Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 9

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 10

Linen backing would normally be completed on paper stock movie posters with paper backing being used for card stock like US Inserts or Window Cards.

Some collectors will not buy linen backed movie posters as it can hide the amount of restoration completed. Also, by linen backing a movie poster, any markings on the back are hidden which could be used to authenticate the movie poster.

The cost of linen backing a movie poster will vary according to its size and the company used for backing. For example, a UK Quad 40”x30” and a US One Sheet 27”x41” will cost £100. A US 3 Sheet which measures 41”x81” will cost £250. If any restoration work is required then that will be charged on top at £75 per hour.


THE PROCESS OF LINEN BACKING A MOVIE POSTER

The process of linen backing a movie poster is quite laborious and requires a high degree of skill and experience. The team at Fourth Cone Restoration, a small business staffed and owned by three women recently completed some work on a Blade Runner US One Sheet.

The Blade Runner movie poster is incredibly hard paper to work on due to its glossy nature, Melissa said “the poster has got to be one of the most cantankerously restoration-resistant pieces I’ve come across. Every step is a battle. When the paper is that smooth and glossy, there is no ‘tooth’ to grab on to any added pigment. So it takes a while. But we’re experienced so of course, it’s fine”. They began with a light wash to remove any surface dirt, followed by linen backing to smooth out the fold lines. Follow the rest of the process and the restoration work completed.

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 1

The Blade Runner poster in original condition. Notice the heavy folds.

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 2

Here is what the poster looks like while it is still on the screen, before getting trimmed down.

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 3

Melissa uses an agate burnisher to smooth the fold lines down until they’re perfectly flat.

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 4

An example of what restoration does. The whitish line running across the image is a fold line. The middle area has been restored first in order to demonstrate the difference.  Some people like to keep their fold lines while others think it detracts from the poster’s original message.

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 5

And here is the poster linen backed and restored.

Movie Poster Preservation and Restoration Linen 6

A side by side comparison of the poster unrestored and restored.


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