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Damaged Antique Frame

Posted · 13 Comments
damaged can be fixed to make this frame look perfect

damaged can be fixed to make this frame look perfect

This frame belongs to a $25,000 painting and was made in France in the 1920s. The still life that goes in this frame is in the conservation laboratory to be treated for flaking.


Because this is the original frame and looks good with the painting, it is important to the owner to stabilize the conditions and make it look presentable, though he did not want to spend the money to make it look perfect.

The frame’s finish layers are cracking badly;  gesso pieces have been lost and some of the finish layers have begun flaking. Outside edges of the frame have many areas of exposed wood where the gesso has popped off (note photo above).

We applied very dilute low molecular weight acrylic adhesive into the cracks of the broken gesso layers with a small tipping brush. We went over the frame five times to make sure we consolidated all loose areas. We also toned the freshly flaked white gesso with water color, so that the loses will blend in better. Finally we coated the frame with wax to even out the appearance and to protect the surface of the frame.

For the $300 the frame’s condition was stabilized and the losses made to not seem so evident. The owner understood and accepted the frame’s gesso and painted liner was still stained and damaged looking (though stable). This cost was in contrast to the $1,800.00 to make the frame look perfect.

Ornate frames can be damaged easily when knocked around, as during rough handling/shipping or in natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados. Smoke damage and fire damage can almost always be remediated. Check with you insurance adjuster about including nice frames that are damaged in a claim. Chop shop frames can easily be replaced with a new frame.

If you are going to throw out a nice, but damaged  frame, give me a call. I may be able to recycle it for you. Call toll free 888 704 7757

Conservation and restoration questions? Call toll free 888 704 7757

Appraisal questions? Call 805 895 5121

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13 Responses to "Damaged Antique Frame"
  1. Jane says:

    Do you know how much the frame costs on its own?

    I just want to know if the $300 is worth it.

    • Scott says:

      Good question Jane. There are several reasons why people go to the effort and expense of restoring original or period frames:
      1. Its a period or old original frame and they want to keep the “whole package” together
      2. They want to have an old frame with the old painting and the old one looks like a good style.
      3. Restoring an old frame may cost you the same as buying a new frame…but in the end you’ll have an antique frame in good condition, which for some is a good thing.
      4. If you’ve ever bought new custom frames, you’ll know that $300 doesn’t buy you much. But it might buy you enough restoration to make the old one look good.
      5. Some old frames can be valuable. Talk to an art appraiser (NOT a framer… or even a gallery).

  2. Fred says:

    I bet it looked pretty good even without going the full $1,800. It might not last near as long as it would have though.

  3. Francesca Salas says:

    I imagine the antique frame that was damaged would be expensive to restore. How do you know its worth it?

  4. Jim says:

    Oh my, that’d be one very expensive frame for $1,800.
    How long would the $300 fix last compared to the perfect restoration?

    • Scott says:

      Its not a matter of how long it lasts sometimes but what the final appearance is. Some people are happy with the frame not looking freshly damaged and others want it to look perfect.

  5. Millie Checkits says:

    It’s good to know that you have fixed the damages of the frame along with maintaining its antique look. Thanks for sharing the post so that now I know if anything happen to my frames help is available from you. Keep up the good work.

  6. Sarena Costa says:

    This blog is just awesome! Thanks for sharing this!

  7. gorden model says:

    nice article. thanks

  8. Riba Mayou says:

    I loved reading your article, thanks. Really good points

  9. John Waze says:

    A great article to start my day with. Thanks for all the info.

Comments are closed.