The words ‘linen-backed’ can be found all over the Cinema Poster Gallery website and in this article, we will do a deep dive into the subject. We will look at the benefits of backing a poster and examine the process, skills and materials required to back a poster to the highest standard.
Two major benefits of linen backing could be summarised as Aesthetic Improvement & Restoration.
With some exceptions, nearly all original cinema posters printed before the 1980s were folded after they were printed. By adhering a poster to a flat surface, linen-backing removes the fold lines from a poster which arguably improve the appearance.
The flattened surface of a linen-backed poster also makes the framers job less complicated. In turn a framed linen backed poster can look better than a framed folded poster but this is a matter of personal taste.
The fold lines on a poster can be considered as lines of weakness. A poster is most likely to separate, gather dirt or lose colour along the fold lines. Gluing the poster to a sheet of linen addresses the problem of the splitting paper while cleaning/washing the poster will remove dirt. The thought of ‘gluing and washing’ a precious poster may fill you with horror and we will address this later in the article.
So, let’s look at some photos. We show the front and back of a Scarface and Octopussy poster. By coincidence, both posters are 40 years old as they were printed for the first release of the films. A few flaws are noticeable. The Scarface poster has an extra vertical fold and some writing has been scribbled on the back. This often isn’t a big deal but text, writing or stamps on the back can show through on a white fronted poster. Liquid has been spilled on Octopussy poster which anyone who has ever knocked a glass of water over papers will recognise. Its also has some pinholes and paper loss on the top right hand side.