Both historic and contemporary posters may require conservation treatments to ensure their stability and safe preservation. Paper is a notoriously fragile material that can be damaged in numerous ways, from mould growth to brittle deterioration. One of the most frequently requested and required conservation treatments is the professional lining of posters, strengthening and protecting them prior to framing or storage. This article will look into some of the risks facing retro and antique posters and the lining options available for their preservation.

Bond poster

The risks facing posters

The original use of posters to be displayed as marketing materials may worsen their condition due to a lack of care and their use of low-cost commercial paper and printing techniques. Many contaminants may linger on posters that have previously been on public display in a cinema.

Posters that have always been highly prized and kept in display conditions similar to other artworks may still have risks from their environment, especially the acidic materials often used in old framing methods. This may cause discolouration and deterioration of the paper over time, requiring professional removal by our conservator to ensure the poster does not face further loss or staining. 

stars was ripped posterAbove: a torn Star Wars poster before and after restoration by our conservator 

Posters are frequently stored by being rolled up in a tube. Whilst some posters may be strong enough to withstand this, many become creased and easily dented either on the ends or along the entire surface. We would always recommend that important posters are stored flat and ideally in a conservation-safe frame. When a poster is badly creased or torn, our paper conservator can expertly restore the damage. 

Signed posters may have issues with the ink fading over time, as printed and written paper is sensitive to UV rays. Our team recommends UV protective framing to ensure the safety of posters and autographs when on display in locations that receive sunlight, prior to protective framing the poster can also be lined to add further stability. 

Why would a poster need lining?

Posters are lined to give them extra strength, primarily when they have previously been creased, torn or badly damaged. Lining gives the poster a stable surface, allowing it to return to display or storage without fear of deterioration. Lining may also pull out any previous creases to allow for a flat surface free for visual disturbances. 

singin in the rain lobby cards restorationAbove: a lobby card before and after restoration by our conservator

What materials can be used to strengthen a poster?

The most frequently used material for lining is an acid-free cartridge paper or Japanese tissue paper – both are very thin and non-intrusive but offer a strong base for the poster. Textile materials can also be used if the poster would like better flexibility, for example when it is going into storage rolled up. In this case our conservator would use a calico base. Whilst tissue and cartridge paper are very lightweight and allow for a smoother lining, calico is much tougher and could be suitable for very large posters that are at risk of easily bending or tearing. 

Due to the variety of materials available for lining, we will always consult with our paper conservator for the best option on a case by case basis. Our paper conservator is ICON accredited and has a wide range of treatment options available for posters with any level of prior damage. We recommend that a weakened poster is lined prior to any new framing to ensure it is in stable condition before returning to display. 

Can the lining be removed?

Yes, all lining carried out by our conservator should be able to be removed with professional techniques. This is usually the course of treatment for a poster that has been lined in the past with inappropriate materials such as acidic glues and backings that have started to discolour or damage the poster. 

warhol and eduardo paolozzi before and after restorationAbove: a selection of modern prints before and after restoration by our paper conservator

How can we help? 

If you have a poster that requires lining or has suffered damage such as tears, creasing or staining, please speak to our helpful team who will be able to offer professional advice. Email us via [email protected] or call 0207 112 7576

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