Linen Backing Posters - The Process And When Should It Be Done

"Linen backing" is a process that is used to restore and preserve movie posters (the best restorers de-acidify the poster during the restoration process), and to make them far easier to display (it is much easier and less expensive to frame a linen backed poster). However it should be noted that you do not Linen Back 'Card Stock', memorabilia such as Lobby Cards / Half Sheets / Inserts or Window Cards.The best process for these is a process called 'Paper Backing' which is similar to Linen Backing. Furthermore Linen Backing cannot be done to posters that have been laminated as lamination cannot be reversed.But for now we will continue to explain Linen backing. When linen backing is done correctly, it adds to the value of the poster, and is NOT a defect! When a poster (especially a vintage one) has "condition issues" that would interfere with enjoying it being displayed, many collectors choose to have the poster professionally "linen backed". It is a process that ends with it mounted onto a linen backing (with Japanese rice paper between the poster and the linen) and this makes the poster far easier to frame, removing most and sometimes all of its defects. It is important to note that heavy restoration does not make a poster worthless, but it can lower the value depending on how much restoration was required. If for example the restorer repainted virtually the entire poster in order to make the new areas "blend" in with the old, then such restoration should greatly lessen the value. The most important thing to recognize is that there's nothing wrong with restoration (especially on rare items), as long as it's well done by an experienced professional.

What is involved in linen backing a poster? Simply put, the poster is often first immersed in a liquid bath that de-acidifies the poster and lightly bleaches it. The bleaching is hopefully light enough that stains are removed but the printed inks are unaffected. Then the poster is mounted on Japanese rice paper, and then both are mounted on linen. The linen is on a stretcher, and then the restorer begins by patching missing areas, and then carefully painting in whatever has been lost, hopefully matching what was originally there as closely as possible. The folds present a special problem, as often old posters will separate partially or entirely when they are immersed. So painting may be necessary along every fold. Finally, the poster is cut from the stretcher, and around an inch of border is left all around the poster.

So why is it done? There are a few clear advantages. The poster is not fragile anymore and is much easier and probably less expensive to frame.Of course it will look far superior visually, for it will lay perfectly flat, and most of the defects will be fixed. What are the negatives? It is expensive. If you have a lot of posters, restoration costs add up quickly. Many collectors with limited budgets would rather buy more posters than spend money on restoration.

When should you have restoration performed? It is a very personal decision, and the poster community is somewhat divided. If a poster is showing signs of wear to the extent that it is likely to deteriorate sooner than later then it is an obvious choice to proceed. If the poster is in very fine to near mint condition, then some would say, don’t get it linen backed but rather have it professionally archivally framed and matted to ensure it is kept correctly. However, if there are enough signs of wear in the buyer’s opinion that they would like them corrected and the poster is not yet deteriorating, then linen backing is an option. In conclusion, never attempt amateur restoration, you are best to leave it unrestored (not linen backed) until you can afford to have it done professionally.

Note: All About Movies are not Linen Backers and any advice given here is based on years of experience as collectors.You are welcome to contact us for recommended professionals.