Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Abe & Mary Todd

This was a pretty exciting week around here, as far as working in a frame shop goes.  I was fortunate to handle TWO wonderful historical documents.  Their presence in the shop was perfectly timed with Independence Day, and the Gettysburg Sesquicentennial; these documents are significant as Presidential and Civil War artifacts.  They are a signed Presidential Appointment by Abraham Lincoln and a handwritten letter by First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln.

I am experienced in framing historical Presidential documents, among others you may recall some years ago I framed a handwritten letter by George Washington.  Each document is handled only with cotton gloves to prevent contact with hand oils.  Each was put in an acid-free environment, on top shelf museum rag matboard, was fitted into a frame so that the glass was not in direct contact with the document (using various methods--more on that later), and glazed with museum glass, which provides amazing clarity and makes it look like there's no glass there at all.

This first document is a Presidential Appointment for Assistant Surgeon of Volunteers, issued February 19, 1963.  Details below.

The client needed the finished frame to fit into specific dimensions, so we were limited to a frame design that included no mat and required the face of the frame to be a certain width.  So I used spacers to raise the glass above the document (they fit in the rabbet of the frame so they are not visible and obscure no text).  We selected a handsome ribbed frame in an oil-rubbed bronze-like finish.

The second document was much smaller and there were no space constraints.  It is a handwritten letter on lined paper by Mary Lincoln to General Boyle.  The authentication notes as follows:

And below is another note regarding the matter which includes the text from a telegram sent by the President.

The letter:

The client wished to show the torn edge of the paper and so we came up with this floating design.  Note is floated on a wheat-color museum rag matboard and a second museum board in a paler color is cut with an opening and installed with a fillet.  Fillets are thin strips of moulding that fit inside the mat like a frame-within-a-frame.  In this case we chose a champagne gold beaded fillet for a monochromatic look with the mats.  I have fillets that coordinate with just about every moulding I carry, in fact I have one created to match this frame, but I like to mix styles and colors for a truly custom look.  The top mat with the opening acts as a surface for the glass to rest on so the glass is not in contact with the document.  This was also glazed using museum glass.

The frame is an acanthus leaf motif in an oil-rubbed bronze finish, meant to be the mate to the first document, but not match it exactly, and also be a more feminine design.

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