certain frames for certain periods

5th corner

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Aug 23, 2005
I have been working in a high end shop.

Some clients want a specific type of frame for a specific piece and it has to be framed for the period it was created in.

eg dutch ripple or early american or fabric drop down thingy like great grandma had on this oil painting

sometimes they cant put into words that that is not the right frame even though the sample that is placed by sales person is old looking as they requested. Old doesn't work ..........what they are trying to say is I want a frame that is from that period like they would have used back then.

After an hour another sales person used to dealing with period works comes and and sees the table of old looking samples and pulls a specific frame of the wall and says this something-or-rather frame from the 1800's is just what you want...........and the client goes yes that is perfect i will have that one.........I like it..........that is what i wanted.

Has anybody experienced these types of situations and how does one deal with them?
Study art history, including frames commonly used on art from different periods. There is a helpful running series on frame history in PFM magazine for starters.
It might be helpful to learn proper terminology for describing frame elements as well, and to avoid terms such as "drop down thingy".
Thanks Rick that is great advise. I know it is not called a drop down thingy but what I was trying to describe was two particular type of clients .......... the ones that either know or have heard somewhere that it is a dutch ripple or early american and the other sort that have seen it but the only way they can describe it is a drop down thingy. Correct me if I am wrong but over here you call it a fabric wrapped liner?
One of the good phrases I use when I put down the correct period of frame (it helps to hang out in antique stores and historic homes to educate your eye, as well) is "Doesn't this look like it has been in the attic for a hundred years?" Thanks, Roma for all the great 'attic finds'!
See how asking here can benefit others? Thanks, Deacon, for that link. I put it in my bookmarks to study. Good to have answers to those questions from customers besides "Uh... I don't know, but I'll find out". We framers should know from whence we came, like our heritages.

And Sam, thanks for asking.
P.S. Cute cat! (your web page under construction)
Good link Deaconsbench. A sound knowledge of framing history is useful when selling. The customer is looking at you as an expert in the field - if you cant advise at the time then research the possibilities and get the customer to come back later.
It takes a village to support a framer! I received this link from a Grumbler some time back, and find it extremely beneficial in working with antique paper collectibles.

It's pretty neat how we are able and willing to exchange ideas, pricing, technology, insight, humor, and an occasional shoulder to cry on.

I feel quite blessed to be a part of something so special as The G. Thanks, Bill McKay for a tremendous site!
The amazing part of this industry is the inordinately high percentage of framers who think that the 4" wide beat-up aged $$$$$ moulding is an "antique" design, and scorn the fresh 23k polished gold leaf Louie XIII and "to new looking".

As I gave my lecture of the Socio-Anthropological History of Frames and Framing, on the sail across the Atlantic... there wasn't a framer in the crowd...

But more than a few Masters degrees, and a few PhDs, and several people who understood the periods.

We will spend hundres of dollars on clothes to look good at counter... but for $700 and a few months of reading from the PFM bookstore, you can look a lot better at the front counter.

I AM that second framer... There have been posters that have been brought in and I have said I even know which frame they saw it framed in... setting down the frame.. and writing up the $1,500 order for that $18 Van Gogh poster they brought back from Amsterdam.

But just knowing the difference between Deco and Neuveau and that they occur during what time period... (and if you are thinking the 1930s, you are on your way to flunking). But more importantly is to know and understand that they weren't 'periods' but schools of thought... and the people who are looking to frame the art are sensitive to you sticking a 1950 Germain design down on their 1901 Maxwell Parrish and say 'that would look nice and old timey'.
Not to change the subject at all, but was Maxfield Parrish commonly refered to as Maxwell Parrish? I did a quick search as I was telling my husband about this post, as he assured me it's Maxfield, and I come up with many references to him as Maxwell. It's his favorite artist(Maxfield) and he's interested in knowing if he's always been known by both names.

Also thanks for the link Deacon. I do plan to check out the PFM bookstore as well, there is so much I would love to learn about this.


I think you have already answered your own question!

5thcorner... It would be my opinion that in your situation that the best solution would be a little old-fashioned education! When another sales associate strolls up and picks just the frame that your customer was looking for it's probably because they KNEW what they were looking for. So the answer to your question, "what do you do in those situations" would be to know what the customer is talking about. And this guy knows, so why not ask him?

I worked in a high end shop where this type of customer is quite common for a short while and I learned quite a bit about period framing during that time. But I was very interested in learning and was always listening and watching and asking questions and quizzing myself.

Don't be intimidated by your more educated associate if that's the case, ask a few questions and if you show real interest I'm sure you may end up with your own personal tutor!

Thanks, Deacon for that awesome link! I've already bookmarked it and will definitely use it to further my own self-education.