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I received an email today asking me if it had been a good idea to have his original movie poster for MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO dry mounted. Here’s a sample image of the poster in question:
The answer is: NO. NO. NO. And again: NO. Never ever have your vintage movie posters dry mounted!
Unfortunately, ignorant, run-of-the-mill frame shops still frequently recommend this technique. While it is widely accepted for modern photography and digital prints, it is an absolute no-go for vintage posters. It is also absolutely unacceptable to most serious collectors. Technically, dry-mounting is sometimes reversible, but it needs a highly skilled restorer to do so, and it does not always work. Also, depending on the glue that was used, ugly stains may remain on the back of the poster, so it would have to be rebacked to be presentable.
Basically, the only two backing options allowed are linenbacking and paperbacking, and both have to be performed by professional restorers. DO NOT try this at home! I do remember a seller from the Arabian world (but living in Germany) who took the word ‘linenbacking’ literally and backed several of his posters on cut-to-size, white duvet covers. With weird imprinted patterns and all. Needless to say, this is not the way to go either. More information on linenbacking and paperbacking can be found in my INFO section.
How to find a good frame shop
Which brings me to the question on how to find a trustworthy frame shop. Of course, if you have a vintage movie poster shop in your area, the easiest way would be ask the owner for a recommendation. If that is not possible, confront the person at the frame shop with the term ‘conservation framing’. For your information, the University Products website offers an excellent summary on the topic.
The frame shop of your choice should be able and willing to explain the process to you. If you get the idea that the framer does not really know what he’s talking about, find somebody else. I’m serious.
A good framer might cost you more money to begin with, but it will be worth the expense over time.
I did not get the idea that the owner of the TOTORO poster is interested in selling, but although this is my all-time favorite anime movie poster, it is extremely in demand and it has become very hard to find, and the prices have gone up dramatically I would most likely refuse to buy it dry mounted. In this condition, in my perception, the poster is worth 20% at best compared to an unbacked copy, so it’s just not worth the hassle. And of course, it would have to ship flat, which is another nightmare in itself.
I have occasionally bought dry-mounted movie posters in the past, but only if it was something extremely rare and desirable like this one:
This poster was printed for the world premiere screening on CIAO MANHATTAN in Amsterdam in 1972. It also comes with a great provenance and it is my favorite poster on the film. Truth be told, I bought this framed in an online auction, so I did not know it was mounted on art board. On the other hand, it’s such a nice piece and so extremely rare, I would have gone for it anyway.