We recently had a customer bring in a large 1904 Scarborough “Classroom Map” of Pennsylvania that was in desperate need of restoration. It had long ago been nailed to a framed corkboard panel, and was in poor condition from mishandling and inadequate storage. There was a large section of damage along the right side, but few “losses” as most of the pieces were still there. The paper was in relatively good condition, but the original linen backing was deteriorating in a number of places. Considering the detail, scale and print quality of this map, it was truly a work of art. A piece of history like this is certainly worthy of preservation, but what if the price of having a piece restored by a Conservator is far beyond the monetary value of the piece? Although we’re not Conservators, we do have some conservation abilities as it pertains to picture framing.
There are different strategies, materials, and techniques for lining and reinforcing artwork. Since the back of this particular map was linen, and the paper and ink proved stable under temperature, we chose to use a modern heat set adhesive designed specifically for this conservation purpose. Knowing the characteristics of an adhesive (specifically melting point) we were able to adjust the temperature used in the lining process to make sure it wasn’t too hot for the artwork. We applied our archival adhesive to the back of the map, and allowed it to dry. We then carefully pieced the map and its damaged areas back together, and laid it down on an oversized cotton rag 4-ply board that was similar in color to the map. After several minutes in the vacuum heat press, we removed the mounted map and let it cool under weight. The freshly lined map was then ready to frame.
We chose to keep the framing simple. A float mount display such as this proudly presents the rough edges and “patina” of an object to celebrate its age. A tall black wood moulding coupled with a hidden strainer reinforcement acts as the structure, and we glazed the piece with 99% UV filtering acrylic. Backed with coroplast, and equipped with heavy duty D-hangers, this restored 1904 map is now ready to hang in its 21st century home!