How do I restore and frame a faded document?
Q. Dear Donia,
My father participated in the Constitutional Convention in Illinois in 1970, and I have inherited a commemorative signature page with all of the elected delegates' signatures. Since 1970, the signatures have faded to light brown. It needs a new frame, but I was wondering if there is anything I can treat the page with so that the ink is restored before I put it behind glass? Do you have any recommendations? Is this even possible? Thanks so much, Margeret
A. Dear Margeret,
What a fascinating document! I wish I could help with the fading but this is something that happens with modern dye-based inks when they are displayed for a long time. The best that I can suggest is to get a high-quality digital image made and manipulate that so that the signatures are visible again. Frame and display this copy so that when it fades again, you can print a new one and never lose the original (and share this great piece with all your family members).
If you want to display the original, you will want to frame it with museum quality mat board (rag based, acid-free, lignin-free, and buffered) and be sure to use UV blocking glass or Plexiglas. It should be hung in a room that gets little to no direct sunlight. This is the only way to slow the fading of the signatures.
Good luck! Please don't hesitate to contact me again if you have any further questions.