How to tell if my antique fashion print is genuine

Is my fashion print antique or not?

For people that collect old prints, it is important to know if the print is genuine or not. A genuine print is usually far more valuable than a reproduction, especially when it is a rare antique print. So how can you tell if your fashion print is the real stuff? Even better, how can you prevent yourself from purchasing a fake fashion print? Here are some simple guidelines to help you determine if your print is antique or a reproduction. In this article we will focus on plates produced on the old fashion way, via the so called printing technique of engraving. A technique where a copper, steel or zinc is plate is carved out and ink is rubbed into the carved areas and removed from the smooth surface of the plate. The copper or steel plates are then run through a press and the paper is pushed into the carved lines. With a very good magnifier its is easy to determent the difference between a wood- and steel engraving.

Antique french print close up. Earrings are colored in with goldpaint 1835

Important French leading magazines like La mode Illustree, Journal des Dames et des Modes, Le Petit Courrier des Dames and the likes considered their fashion plate collectibles an art form and no expense was was spared to create them. Quality paper and ink was used, leading artists and designers where brought in to draw up the designs, master engravers did the steel carving and the prints were colored in by art students or artist that needed money.  The fashion plates soon became a huge success. Because of the high quality and beauty of the prints, they are still very much collected around the world. Here are the tips that help you determine the authenticity of your antique fashion print.

If it’s too white, something  is not right. 

Very old paper doesn’t look snow white.  Over the years, micro organisms have their way with the paper causing the pH value of the paper to increase. The residue that organisms leave behind, often leave spots and marks in the paper. Next to these organisms, sun damage and years of accumulated smoke also can cause yellowing and browning of the print. Some sellers resort to harsh bleaching agents to whiten the prints. This is very harmful in the long run. I would recommend not buying those.

Generally speaking, discoloration, yellowing and browning of the paper is a sign of old age, it comes with, and is part of its authenticity.

Using close-ups to determent antique prints

The use of simple magnifiers to authenticate antique prints

When you use a magnifier to look at an antique print, you can determent with what kind of printing technique you are dealing. At the end of this article you can find some in depth resources that help you understand all printing techniques used. In the case of antique fashion prints, you should look for regular dotted, or beehive shaped patterns that indicate you are dealing with a common impostor! A regular steel engraved antique fashion print has many details that you can’t even see to well with the naked eye.

A steel engraved fashion print should look something like the photo on the right. So invest in some magnifiers. Its worth the money and they are not that pricey. When buying antique prints online, make sure you ask for close-ups or only buy from sellers that provide them with the description. When browsing local markets, keep a small pocket magnifier with you to check out the print on the spot.

“Good” details  in antique fashion prints you should look for with a magnifier are:

  • Use of gold paint used for jewelry.
  • Hand applied paint that goes clearly beyond the lines of the print.
  • Infilled make-up colors and blush. Irregular dots and lines applied by hand.
  • Use of areas waxed with Arabian gum.

“Bad” details you should look for are:

  • Regular, apparently generated dots in RGB
  • Bee hive shaped patterns in CMYK
  • Colors that do not coat the whole surface of a place, colors that overlap.

 Look for plate marks, it sounds bad but it is a good thing!

A plate mark imprint was left by the pressure of the inked plate, pressing in the paper.

Steel engravings are made by applying ink to a steel plate and pressing it onto the paper. These plates left marks around the printed area, usually shaped in a rounded rectangle around the illustrated area. Look for these imprints of pressure around the image. It is a sign of the prints authenticity!

The type of paper is an indication of age.

Watermark visible when keeping the print against a light source.

Before the 19th century, laid paper was used. Laid paper has a very different production procedure then modern, woven paper and also different composition. After the 19th century they used a more modern and cheaper way to produce paper. This modern paper was very high in wood pulp content which made this paper very prone to yellowing. However, many French antique fashion prints continued to be printed on laid paper because of the quality the publishers wanted to deliver with their magazines. These prints on laid paper often have a watermark as well as the typical horizontal stripes, that seem to be embedded in the paper. (a trade of laid paper)

I think its safe to say that antique fashion prints printed on laid paper, are usually more valuable then those that are not.

In general:

  • Prints on laid paper are often older and more valuable.
  • Look for watermarks in the paper by holding the print against the light
  • Look for the type of paper used, do you see horizontal stripes in the paper? Than it is laid paper.
  • Very modern paper often feels very smooth compared to old fashion types of paper that has high contents of viberous wood pulp.

 

Some examples of old and new printing techniques I have come across:

These are some of the points I have come across in collecting antique fashion prints. I hope it helps you collecting the prints you are looking for!

If you want more in depth information about identifying old and antique prints, check out these two great resources:

You can find the antique fashion prints that are up for sale in my store here: My Etsy shop, section: engravings

Jo

 

 

 

 

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Journal des Demoiselles

 Journal des Demoiselles, for the 19th century fashionista’s 

Two lovely original 19th century fashion prints from the Amsterdam Bruxelles Desterbecq editions, rare.

For the history lovers: How woman have come a long way since the “Journal des Demoiselles” and other fashion magazines like this one. Before these magazines issued, woman weren’t expected to read.  These Fashion magazines, with lots of pictures, came out and gradually became the first socially approved “reading” material for ladies. Fashion was an agreeable topic in higher social circles which made these magazines a stepping stone in aiding the literariness of woman.

Both copper engravings are cleaned and are de- acidified for the purpose of conservation. Both plates are in very good, bright condition. The gravures have been sun-bleached to treat and visually improve the plates and lessen the foxing spots.
The oldest original gravure depicts a woman and two children dressed in a Harlequin themed outfit. Maybe these where outfits for a play or for the yearly Parisian fashion fair. The plate is dated: Janvier 1861. No 1.
The second original gravure is dated: Fevier 1866 no 2.
On this plate we see several bonnets and hair guirlandes and some matching other fashions items.
Both plates are mounted on acid free museum board and are framed in gold-colored frames. The frames where made around 1920-1930 and have a new piece of glass. The stylish and valuable plates are ready to decorate your wall. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about this item, I’ll be happy to answer.

Regards, Jo

These framed engravings can be purchased for 41.95 Euro ( in all currencies) exclusive of shipping costs directly via this link on Etsy:
*If you are interested in purchasing this work or if you have additional questions, please use the form below.

Retouching old frames

Frames are the finishing touch of an art piece but can devalue it too.

Sometimes you come across a wonderful artwork with a damaged frame. Old prints and plates usually suffer from effects that are caused by time: foxing  yellowing, browning or tearing.

Fixing upper antique frame

Here you can see an artwork with a damaged frame. At the bottom the whole top layer was scraped of. Aside from this the frame also has a few other spots where the gold paint is missing.

To me, these marks of aging are perfectly fine and acceptable, in some degree that is. I even think that nothing is more hideous than a “whiter than snow” antique print that is obviously bleached with aggressive bleaching agents. The print will look like it was printed yesterday and in some severe cases probably even looks whiter than it ever has! Some art dealers, trying to make a quick buck, might resolve to these harsh methods, but the prints suffer severely and the chlorides and other chemicals will damage the fibers of the old paper. I just stick to the motto; ” if its to white to be true, it probably is”. Same goes for teeth by the way. Most antique lovers would agree with me that some wear and tear actually adds to the charm and beauty of an antique item. After some time in the antique prints business, I have noticed that damaged frames dramatically devalue a piece of art. Frames are intended to serve as a window that you look through, they separate the artwork from the rest of the environment, so your eyes can focus on the work of art. Next to that, they also offer protection to the art piece, especially when glass is used. So when the frame is damaged, sharp visual lines are broken, and all these complimenting effects mentioned above, are compromised.

Not suitable for your wall
Fixer up damaged frame 2

A close-up of the damage done.

People tend to put these artworks away, since they find that these artworks are no longer suitable to put up on the wall. Maybe they will place them somewhere in the attic or cellar, and next you know, the glass gets broken and atmospheric effects have their way with the paper, leaving the artwork aged beyond its time.

A shame, and moreover a reason to keep original frames in tact. Here is how I do minor, (cosmetic) touch-ups on a damaged, antique frame. You can find a summary of the materials I used at the bottom of this page.

fix upper: retouching frames 3

Preparing the putty in a glass container and applying it with a dull bladed knife.

fix upper: antique frame 5

Before letting the putty completely dry out, when it is still mold able, I will smooth the putty out with my fingers as much as possible. After this it can harden for a few hours.

 

Fix up: antique frame 6

After drying I will sand the layer of putty and wipe it again with ammonia. After this the first layer of gold paint is applied. First light golden paint and after this a dark layer is applied. Letting the layers dry in between and making sure the layers are thinly applied.

 

Fix up: antique frames 6

After the two layers of gold paint, I will use a film of black oil paint, thinned with turpentine. I rub it in with my fingers to create the patina effect.

Fixing up antique frames, 7

Applying black oil paint with a brush and rubbing it in, gently tapping it in with a cloth also works. Letting a thin layer dry, and then applying yet another layer until it looks good, matching the old patina.

frameaf

The end product. After this stage a thin layer of lacquer can be applied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tools

What I used for this: Fast drying wood plaster, (putty), Amsterdam acrylic gold paint, deep gold , nr. 803 and Amsterdam acrylic paint light gold, nr. 802. Brand-less black oil paint, turpentine, brushes, knife,cloth and sanding paper, (finely gritted)

A pig and a poem by R. Dahl

The Pig , by Roald Dahl.

Etching by C Dake. “After the meal”, 1886.

 

Poem by Roald Dahl

In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn’t read.
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn’t puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found.
Till suddenly one wondrous night.
All in a flash he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, ‘By gum, I’ve got the answer! ‘
‘They want my bacon slice by slice
‘To sell at a tremendous price!
‘They want my tender juicy chops
‘To put in all the butcher’s shops!
‘They want my pork to make a roast
‘And that’s the part’ll cost the most!
‘They want my sausages in strings!
‘They even want my chitterlings!
‘The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!
‘That is the reason for my life! ‘
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great piece of mind.
Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor…
Now comes the rather grisly bit
So let’s not make too much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile he said,
‘I had a fairly powerful hunch
‘That he might have me for his lunch.
‘And so, because I feared the worst,
‘I thought I’d better eat him first.’

A poem, a mother, Haverman and Claude McKay

My Mother, a poem by Claude McKay (1922)

Hendrik Haverman, printing company “S. Lankhout”. This lithograph was an added print of an 1896 edition of “De Kroniek”

lithograph by Hendrik Haverman representing his wife and daughter, 1896.

Reg wished me to go with him to the field,
I paused because I did not want to go;
But in her quiet way she made me yield
Reluctantly, for she was breathing low.
Her hand she slowly lifted from her lap
And, smiling sadly in the old sweet way,
She pointed to the nail where hung my cap.
Her eyes said: I shall last another day.
But scarcely had we reached the distant place,
When o’er the hills we heard a faint bell ringing;
A boy came running up with frightened face;
We knew the fatal news that he was bringing.
I heard him listlessly, without a moan,
Although the only one I loved was gone.

The dawn departs, the morning is begun,
The trades come whispering from off the seas,
The fields of corn are golden in the sun,
The dark-brown tassels fluttering in the breeze;
The bell is sounding and the children pass,
Frog-leaping, skipping, shouting, laughing shrill,
Down the red road, over the pasture-grass,
Up to the school-house crumbling on the hill.
The older folk are at their peaceful toil,
Some pulling up the weeds, some plucking corn,
And others breaking up the sun-baked soil.
Float, faintly-scented breeze, at early morn
Over the earth where mortals sow and reap—
Beneath its breast my mother lies asleep.

About the art & poem: The lithograph, by Hendrik Haverman, 1896.

 The poem: About.com education

A letter from Jan Mankes

Jan Mankes 1889-1920

A letter Jan Mankes wrote, while he was ill with tuberculosis.  The letter was addressed to a female friend and art collector. A few months later he died, thirty years of age.

mankeszelfportret_met_uil

Jan Mankes, self portrait with owl


“An August day can be so dusty and sobering”. “On these days you just want to disappear, escape all this misery imposing on you”. However you know: “the serene evening will come and the Lapwing, (a bird) will be heard over the lowlands”. When taking a walk in the early morning dew, looking at the backs of the cows, and the dampening trees, you know that just the thought of all these things justifies everything on such a fierce August day.  “You’re not to groan and curse”, “and you do not try to change it and improve it, you just seek out a quiet place somewhere on a deserted piece of land, and wait while knowing that it will come”.  Nature has nothing to hide, but gives everything, and those August days, they also have their place in our mental landscape. But the winterstorm nights, they will come, and so will the lovely mornings and evenings in may,  those are all intimacy.

Only that depth we get while living life through these extremes, together,  can make true friendships happen.

Will fate allow us to go through all these stages?

 

The Dutch version of this letter is found on the website: www.annezernike.nl

More art of Jan Mankes: The Darkness of Jan Mankes

Woodblock prints, Jan Mankes and colorblindness

I am “one in two-hundred females with color blindness”.  I can distinct primary colors pretty well, and find my self mostly struggling with some varieties of blended colors. I have always been drawn to artworks with lots of black tones like for instance those of the Dutch painter Jan Mankes, 1889-1920. When in a room with several paintings, like in the Museum of Arnhem, these are the ones that my eyes are drawn to. 

Selfy with owl Jan Mankes

Selfy with owl

When I first saw his work in our local art museum I was blown away by the paintings of Jan Mankes. The colors he uses, the topics of his works and even the small size of his paintings, accredit to the fantastic sober, dark and natural atmosphere of his artistic legacy. The frames that were used for his paintings, are made of wood and are often very broad and robust, also complimenting the petite fragile inner state of the paintings. Since that moment in the museum, (to me almost a spiritual happening) I became a big fan of his work. Most artworks by Mankes have that darkness that I like. A literal darkness. I think the scarceness of bright and light colors is in beautiful contrast with Mankes smooth, powdery and gentle streak.

MANKESUitzicht_atelier_te_Eerbeek

View from his atelier in Eerbeek

His sometimes unusual use of color and the dark blend, makes me wonder if Mankes might have been colorblind. It takes one to know one I suppose?

Darkness in old paintings, like that in the paintings of the great masters, Rembrandt van Rijn for instance, was often caused by the layer upon layer of yellowed and browned lacquer and the dependence on natural sources of daylight. Next to that, their paint and pigments where natural and made by following very precise alchemy recipes. Sometimes the pigments and the paint where poorly made. Turning black after long periods of time because the pigments in the paint turned out to be unstable.

Art lovers and artists themselves have come to associate the darkness in the paintings with the quality of the old masters. Later generations of artists have used special dark brown lacquer for their paintings in order to create that brown and yellowish veil over their works.

Porcupine, Jan Mankes woodblock

Porcupine Woodblock by Jan Mankes

I have recently read some of the correspondence of Jan with his friend and art collector Gouma (1882 – 1926) The way Jan writes about the weather, nature and his environment, makes me think he was a fan of “the dark days before Christmas “as we say here in the Netherlands and actually enjoyed those beautiful soft and natural colors that come with that time of the year. I came to understand that Jan was very inspired by the woodblock prints of the Japanese artist Hokusai and bought his very first etching press because he wanted to make prints himself. In 1913 he started with his first prints and I am glad that he did because the woodblock prints and etchings by Jan Mankes are of an exceptional quality as you can see here on the left. Portraying a prickly animal so soft and touchable with only black and white as an option is truly the work of a great artist. I must say that I am always scouting to hopefully obtain one of those great woodblock prints by Jan Mankes. They are being sold for absurd amounts of money here in Jan Mankes’s Lowlands.

Zilverwyandotte, woodcut by Jan Mankes

Zilverwyandotte, woodcut by Jan Mankes

In 1920, Jan Mankes unfortunately died from tuberculosis when he was only 30 years old. He left a legacy of 150 small paintings, 100 drawings, and 50 graphics.

I have translated one of Jan’s many letters for reference: “A Letter from Jan Mankes”.

 

 

 

 

 

Before and after pictures

Before and after

Cleaning artworks is a very rewarding task. Here you can see some artworks that have been cleaned and restored. You can click on the before and after pictures to view the big version. You can use your zoom for the right resolution.

A Knilling engraving featuring 16th century European fashion. I removed the acidic build up in the paper by washing this 1870 print  in a Calcium hydroxide bath. To keep the the hand colored areas as good as possible I did not sun bleach the print after the bath but left the print as is.

Ed Jeska pastel drawing

Pastel by Ed Jeska, 1937. Artwork with water damage on both sides, I scraped of moldy patches, removed dirt on the backside, filled in the water-damaged areas with a new layer of oil pastel. Fixated the pastel crayon powder with fixation spray.

Bestand_000 (63)

Sabelspoort Arnhem, etching, I removed the acidic backing, and aqueously cleaned the paper with Calcium Hydroxide. It was then pressed, dried and sun bleached.

bestand_001-66

A  beautiful 120 year old frame with superficial damage. I filled in the damaged areas with putty for wood. After this some light sanding and painting the putty with light and dark gold paint. After this some black paint was used to re-create the patina effect to match the rest of the frame.

jaarsveld

After finding the right solvent gel, this wonderful painting by Arie Jaarsveld was stripped from its brown lacquer and returned to the Indian summer day as it was captured by the artist . Fantastic colors emerge.

 

Bestand_002 (28)

Herman Wiechmann postcard 1898. Aqueous cleaned. Retouched the cracked area. pressed and dried.

Bestand_005 (13)

“Cactus” woodcut by the Rol family 1935, aqueously cleaned, sun dried, highlighted foxing spots.

Art Deco Woodcut by A. Remiens 1920, removed tape, cleaned aqueous, pressed and sun bleached.

Matthaus Schiestl ca.1900, a copy of the work that is hanging in Domburg Germany. The lacquer is removed. I touched up and retouched some damaged areas, further more the painting was cleaned and I applied a new layer of lacquer.

krug

A cute panoramic lino cut by Han Krug made around 1935. The paper turned brown because of the acidic cardboard it was mounted on. It was carefully removed from the board and washed in distilled water with added calcium hydroxide. After this it was pressed and dried. Some cracks in the paper were than retouched and some areas re-enforced with Kozo paper. It was then mounted on acid free board, matted and framed.

Midderigh Bokhorst litho ca. 1936

A lithographic print by Midderigh Bokhorst, ca. 1935. It was washed, sun-bleached  and tares where mended with Kozo paper.

Cleaning paintings

The cleaning of an old painting

Schiestl before cleaning, removing the old lacquerFor some time,  I have been cleaning antique, old paintings. I bought a beautiful piece by Matthaus Schiestl,  made around 1913,  that could use some restoration and cleaning.  The painting had some “craquelure” , the breaking of the varnish into a pattern of  hair sized cracks. Next to this, the lacquer turned into a brown veil that “dulled” the image considerably. The painting looked dirty which lessened the the decorative value of this lovely painting. You can imagine this painting not looking to good contrasting with a white or very light wall in the background.

While very fine lines are caused by aging and can enrich a painting, wide craquelure, if not treated, can result in the deterioration of the painting. Wide and rounded craquelure has other causes then just time passing. The wide gaps allow moisture to penetrate the paint under the varnish where it will react and cause expanding of the paint. Of course, this process will not happen over night, this will take time. Schiestl’s painting did not suffer from problematic craquelure but the lacquer on this painting became very dark and had covered the painting under a brown veil. Removing this should greatly improve the colors as well as lessen the craquelure.

Right corner with damage

Next to the condition mentioned above, the painting had some minor scratch marks here and there. An excellent candidate for me to clean. It is a big painting, (83 x 70 cm) so I knew I was up for some late night hours and many, many, (actually a few thousand) Q-tips. With chemicals, I made two solvent gels, one with acetone and one with ethanol alcohol so I had an option to test which one worked best on what color. I started out with a little corner at the bottom of the painting. Both gels turned out quit well, although I liked the ethanol solvent best because this gel seemed somewhat more liquid when reacting with the lacquer, which made the removal of the old lacquer somewhat easier.

Some colors on the painting reacted when in contact with the solvent gels. I minimized the exposure time on those problem areas and neutralized afterwards with turpentine, but here and there was some paint lost.
These areas where later retouched with the appropriate colors. After the painting was stripped from its brown old varnish, I retouched the areas where some paint was lost as well as the spots where the paint was scratched.

These where firstly infilled with Gesso and after that, retouched with oil paint.  After an extensive drying period of the thinned oil-paint,  (several weeks) it was time for the painting to get a new layer of varnish.  I chose Windsor and Newton varnish, (with UV- filter and reversible if needed) This was applied it with a “Da Vinci” ultra soft lacquer brush. The removing of the old varnish took about 90 to 100 hours.

I used around 3000 Q-tips during this process and about a square meter of cotton cloth. Almost one liter of solvent-gel did the job of dissolving the old lacquer.

And voila! An explosion of color. Like it was made yesterday. More info about this painting, which is a remake of an existing work by Matthaus Schiestl, will be posted in the shop where it will be offered for sale.

It is for sale now on Etsy and via this blog:

Oh hail Mary by Emmer or Emner after M Schiestl

 

 

 

 

Cleaning artworks

Cleaning the “hardware” of artworks vintage or antique.

Micro-organisms  can feast on paper artworks, books, posters and comics in the right circumstances. Used framing materials like the backingboard and even glass can be affected by these micro-organisms. Next to fungi, sometimes bugremains, bugpoop and dust is present behind the framing. All the framing materials must be cleaned thoroughly and sometimes even sterilized before they can be re-used. Sometimes the damage is so severe, its best to start fresh and use a new frame and piece of glass to prevent fungal contamination. However most of the time it adds to the artwork if you can keep the original materials and re-use them. 

Cleaning and sanitizing the glass

dirty glassIf you can, take this nasty chore outside because you shouldn’t breath in the spores. Its best to wear a mask and rubber gloves. Glass that has been covering a moldy artwork, is best cleaned with rubbing alcohol, (70%) and hydrogen peroxide (3%). First, remove all the dirt on the glass by spraying it with water. Wipe it with a paper towel so all the superficial dirt is gone. Spray the glass plate with the hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Leave it for an hour or so. The spores are dead. To de-grease and clean the plate use rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth. Wipe and dry the glass but not completely to prevent a electrical static reaction that attracts particals and dust to the glass plate. To prevent this you can let the glass dry by air for the last part. From then on wear gloves when handling the glass (for example when you are ready to frame). This is to make sure you don’t transfer anything to the plate and prevent fingerprints to show up on the glass. You should now have a nice fresh and sanitized glass plate ready to use.

Backboard and cardboard 

Next we have the backingboard material. This is often made of thick plates containing fibrous woodpulMoldp and a glue that keeps it together. Fungi love this stuff, especially combined with moist and a high enough humidity. The fungi on the left started decomposing the backboard after it was treated on a good splash of water and high temperatures. The several species of fungi went for the cardboard and not the mulberry paper. When backing panels and backboards show any signs of mold its best to through them away right away to prevent contamination via the spores.

Since fungi are truly a biohazerd, handle with care and don’t move it about to much, place in a plastic bag and discard. Spores can be dangerous for people with astma and other lung diseases. The backboards are best to replace with acid free materials like museum board or archiving board, and sealed with a good quality tape. I use Tesa double sided ECO tape for that. Its a very broad tape so you can close the gap  between the frame and the board and coat it with waxed brown paper.

Cleaning of the frame

The frame is often very dirty. When molds where present in the artwork, its best to clean the frame very thoroughly also on the inside. The frame usually has a layer of laquer on it,  its not always a good idea to wipe it with a aggressive cleaning agent because this will remove or damage the laquer on the frame. You can clean the front depending on the material that was used for the frame. The inside of the frame (the ridge where the glass falls in) can be cleaned with a soft cloth and some hydrogen peroxide on the cloth. Be aware that hydrogen peroxide also works as a bleaching agent. When you are not sure, test a little spot before starting this procedure. Some other anti bacterial and fungi killing agents are:

vinegar (kills about 78%), baking-soda, chloride bleach, ammonia, (UV- radiation en cold temperatures)

Detecting mold in old artworks

  • There are a few signs that can tell you if there is mold present in a artwork. First is the powdery dust of mildew. When the white powder is dry and powdery, the fungus is probably not active. When its creamy and wet-like, it is active.  
  • The second hint is the signs of water dbig spots and water damageamage on the the artwork, like tide lines and water spots on the cardboard.
  • The last clue is the presence of strange stains like you can see here on the left. When opening up this artwork there was indeed a patch of mold at the backside of the stained area caused by water damage. This also shows that its important to dry art that has been subjected to water damage.

Preventing Mold on artworks

Preventing mold is always the best option, some simple rules can help the climate in the artwork so it becomes a less attractive snack for those decomposing organisms.

Keep a steady climate environment  The best climate is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity. Try to prevent sudden variations as much as you can.

Use acid-free materials for framing. To maintain the quality of the artwork acid will deteriorate the paper.

Remove the paper from its frame when its has been wet. Let it dry completely between blotter papers.

Keep the artwork clean. Dust and soil will attract bugs and microorganisms. (clean the glass with a damp cloth, not spraying any moisture directly on the glass.

Don’t hang the artwork in the sun

Make sure the artwork can breathe, place some distance between the artwork and the wall. Make sure the artwork is not placed against the glass but lies on a mat or is placed on spacers.

When the artwork is wet, always remove it from the frame and let dry between felt or blotter paper.

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