Preserve Your Memories

Old photos original

Portraits of our client’s Father, Aunt & Uncle needed a little TLC.

Our client wanted to share these family photographs with her extended family so she first had us remove them from their original frames so that she could make copies.  When she was done with that, she wanted us to replace the old worn, yellowed mats.

She wanted to keep the vintage frames, because this is how she always remembered the pictures hanging in her grandparents’ home…but the old mats had to go.  She wanted a design upgrade.

We chose a nice mottled solid core mat- Bainbridge’s “Weathered Zinc Rustic” – that worked with both the photographs and the original frames.  This made all the difference in the looks of the pieces,  and she probably would have been happy with that… but we wouldn’t have been.

What these photographs needed was a more important upgrade: a “conservation upgrade”.

We removed the old acid filled mats, the masking tape , the cardboard backing & the float glass and replaced them with 100% Virgin Alpha Cellulose matting, Artcare foam board , conservation mounting methods &  Conservation Clear 99% UV blocking glass.


Well, back when these photographs were originally framed, there was no such thing as “conservation framing”.  This means that materials like regular “float” glass, regular acid filled mats, masking/scotch tape, glue,  cardboard, newsprint, corrogated board & wood used to be the norm.  Unfortunately, time has shown that these sort of materials actually damage the piece being framed, faster than if you just left your photograph in a box under your bed.

The crazy thing is that these materials are still being used today in inexpensive “ready made” frames.   That’s okay for “decorative art”, the stuff that you only care if it lasts a year or two anyhow cause then you will chuck it and put something new up in its place.  But is that what you want for your family photographs?

Take a good look at your memories hanging on your walls.  Are the mats yellowed or discoloured with the bevels yellow or brown?  Do you see any burning around the edge of the photograph/artwork by the matting?  Any foxing, mould growth, discolouration of the artwork?  Do you have UV inhibiting glass protecting them?  Do you know?

Why is this important?

Eventually, even high quality paper (such as what these black and whites were printed on) starts to show signs of acid damage and fading when enclosed in a non-friendly micro-environment.  These photographs had faded some due to ultraviolet light and there was some acid migration around the edges where the mat had touched them.

The acid in cardboard backing can also seep into the backs of the paper, you can tell when the backs of your piece looks like the pattern of cardboard or if really bad when you see it on the front.  Again, with high quality photography papers, the acid migration will take quite awhile before you see this sort of damage on the fronts.

As with everything, the better quality your photograph is, the longer it can withstand an unfriendly environment.  For the photographs that really matter, though, why take a chance?

Your local professional framer is right around the corner.  Go in today and ask for your “conservation upgrade”.  Your children’s children will be happy you did.

Old photos new mats and glass

New acid free matting, mounting, dustcover, hanging package and UV inhibiting glass will prolong these family photographs for many more years.