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Picture Framing and Art Preservation/Frame-antique or modern reproduction


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Hello..Here is my question.A few years ago I picked up two of these frames.I am no stranger to woodworking and they sure looked antique or deep vintage at the least judging by the wood and carvings.Its not gesso,all wood.Here the thing and the disconnect.When I got home and looked close....I saw one of those oval gold stickers that said made in china .I couldn't believe it.I still don't I took some of the paint off in a corner for inspection.This was painted a few red and gold underneath.I would like your opinion if this is a period antique or a high quality modern reproduction.Thanks for any info you can share. Arnold

Hi Arnold,

I hope you're not too disappointed but there are a few things that tell me your frames are modern reproductions. First of course is the made in China sticker. Second, if you look at the back you can see where some short blocks were attached for reinforcements; that's a modern technique found on mass-produced frames. Then you see that they are attached with staples, also a modern material. Also, you didn't mention the size but take a look at it and measure the oval opening. I'd wager that it's a standard size like 16x20 or 12x16. It's very unlikely that an antique would have been made in a standard size like that.

Just a couple other things for background: The red color you see is meant to simulate red bole, a thin clay or plaster-like material traditionally used in gilding. The red color gives the gold leaf a richer and deeper color. Once the gold leaf (or gold paint on less expensive frames) was applied it would be distressed, rubbing away the gold slightly and letting the red peek through on the high points for a gently aged appearance. It looks like someone took white paint to the frames at some point. Also, when you have a rectangular frame with an oval opening like that it's called a spandrel frame.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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