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Help needed with large button

Susan May

PFG, Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
May 28, 2000
moved to Clermont, Florida
I have a large button (with easel back) that has a photo attached. The problem is that the photo is peeling off.

The button looks like a "Normal" button, but the image was done a little odd. There is a nice design done on the right side, and a bit as a border. The photo was attached to the design from the back, by some foil around the oval photo. It is attached in an oval hole, leaving a thin gold foil line around the photo.

Now the photo is starting to curl forward, and some of the foil has come forward with it. (Some has stayed with the design.)

Any ideas on how I should (or IF I should) fix this?

We think that this was done in America about 1918.

Help! :D
Sue ;I don't have a remedy and don't think you should either. The best hope is as Jerome suggest a conservator.
On still an other note ,I have worked in a PBS Art Auction for over 10 years and some of the auctioneers are bonifide art and antique appraisers . They ,as do the peopel on "The Antique Road Show" ,always recommend thet true antiques and collectables not be restored/altered but left in their original condition once they have been stabilized (prevented from further unraveling etc.) Changes and attempts to restore some of these items can depreciate their original Value.But if anyone can do the job it is best left to a Conservator.Rebecca and Hugh are you listening?
Everything that has been said, here, is most valid. Condition is critically important to collectibles and ephemera, but if the item is
not stable, its condition is diminishing, as it
comes apart. Stabilizing it is best left to a
conservator, since their knowledge is so broad and
they are best able to anticipate whatever problems
this item may encounter, down the road.

I certainly hope the customer will take the advice of contacting a conservator, but...

but what do you do when, knowing you shouldn't do anything to it, you also know that if you don't do something, the customer will take it to someone who will? And who knows what they'll do to it?

Do you just say, "well, it's not my problem." Or, do you try to stablize it as best you can, and are able?

I just always have this fear that if I don't do something, the customer will let someone else destroy it.

I guess I'm just a soft touch...

Doing your best, on the customer's behalf may
help the object, but it exposes you to liability,
for which you are not likely to be compensated.
The future of the framer should come before any concern about what may happen to the button. If
there are enough framers who listen to this forum,
the customer will have a hard time finding anyone
but a conservator to do the job. There is also a
possibility that the work another framer did on
the button would be the same as you might have done, and thus, you are spared the liability and
the button is fine.

If the customer refuses to take your advice to take an item to a conservator and then takes it to someone else who is not qualified, but will work on it...at least you did your duty in giving them proper counsel. You will also be able to sleep well at night knowing that you did the proper thing and it won't come back to bite you in the behind.

Remember: An expert is someone who knows what they don't know or what they are not qualified to do and is willing to send someone to a person who has the qualifications to perform the work needed.

Be an expert. Refuse to do work you're not trained to do. Have resources to refer customers to or job out that portion of the work to a qualified conservator.

Dave Makielski
I sent the customer to the local (and highly respected) Antiques mall. The people there really know their antiques, and may know (or be) the conservators she needs. She promised to inform me of any new information.

Nice to know that my first thought (not to touch it) was right.

Thanks all!
I won't repair anything that might have value. I'll advise a customer about going to a conservator and if it's not something they want to do, I'll offer archival storage options or preservationally frame (if they're too anxious to display it) without making any repairs, but I explain that the item is still unstable and (in the case of your button) can still continue to curl if not treated. Framing is not the cure, only conservation is. Framing protects the conservation. Anyway, I figure at least it will get into a frame rather than into a cardboard box and back into the basement. If they can't accept that, I happily let them walk away.

Good call referring your customer to the Antiques Mall... one more educated consumer!!
Perhaps "trapping" it with Mylar-D could have been a possibility?

I sooooo just wanted to post "PUSH IT"...
Lance, I thought about incasing it in Mylar. I still might do that. However, I don't like using mylar around a ROUND shape.