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How to Frame Antique Maps

If you are the proud owner of a rare, antique map and want to display your valuable find in your home, consider framing it. Professional framing of antique maps allows for the tasteful display of your map and can help protect it from damaging elements.

Decide if it is a good idea to frame the map. Although framing is often considered to be a source of protection, framing an especially valuable antique map may work to its detriment since the map will be exposed to more elements like temperature fluctuations and light sources than if it were stored.

Restore or repair an antique map. Touch up an antique map before you frame it. Repairing or restoring your antique map after it has been framed may result in you having to pay to frame the map again.

Find a framer who specializes in preserving historical documents. It's important to choose a framer who is located in your town; ordering framing services over the Internet is not advisable because there is no way to check the framer's work before you put in your order.

Visit the framer and check his work. Inquire about framing processes and pricing. Talk about the particulars of the antique map and how you want the antique map framed.

Choose frames that are either made of wood or metal. Ask for materials that prevent acidic contact and transference. Wooden rabbets lined with aluminum or polyester tapes and acrylic adhesives can save an antique map from being damaged.

Request to see the framing materials. Make sure that brads or pins are used to mount the map on its backboard. The use of adhesive tapes could damage portions of the map. Ask about moisture guard options. Usually, framers use polyester film or polypropylene when framing to prevent moisture from entering the frame after it is hung. Inquire about acrylics that help prevent ultraviolet light from coming into contact with the antique map.

Customize the frame, if you find it suitable or necessary. Some framers customize using double and triple mats, V-grooves and French-matting at an additional cost.

Allow time for the antique map to be framed. Three weeks is not an uncommon amount of time to wait for the map to be framed.

Create a small pocket and card to contain the map's details. Write the map's date, provenance, atlas and the cartographer's name on the card. Attach the pocket and its card to the back of the map's frame so that you can be reminded of its details. You may also choose to display the map's details by other means. Choosing the details' display, much like the framing, is up to you.

Hang the newly framed antique map in a place that is cool, dry and away from direct sunlight. Consider regularly switching the placement of the framed maps so that the maps have equal exposure to the same elements in the room.


  • Never hang framed maps in attics, basements, bathrooms, above heat sources or in places that use florescent lighting or are exposed to direct sunlight. Due to the delicate nature and value of antique maps, framing should only be done by a professional. While do-it-yourself methods are always an option, it is best not to risk damaging your antique map while attempting to frame it.
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