If you are a serious movie poster collector, the odds are pretty good that you’ve looked into linen backing your collection’s crown jewels.
It may be one of the smartest moves you can make to protect your movie posters – not only visually but also to preserve their value. There are still many people who balk at the idea of linen backing because they’re not sure how much it’s going to cost.
Not only that, but we also get a little bit deeper into what linen backing is and why it’s so important.
By the time you’re done with the details below, you’ll have a great idea of which posters in your collection deserve this kind of treatment!
Let’s get right into it.
What is Linen Backing?
Before we start to talk about how much linen backing might cost, it’s essential to make sure that we cover exactly what linen backing is in the first place.
Movie posters (older posters for sure) were printed on paper, not at all designed to last and be archival.
After all, nobody thought that these posters would ever be collectible!
First and foremost, these posters were advertising pieces designed to get people into the theaters and then be ripped down and replaced when the new films came in.
Linen backing is a mounting process that essentially attaches your poster to 100% acid-free, archival paper that totally restores the poster back to almost better than brand-new condition.
This is perhaps the best thing you can do to protect your most valuable posters, that’s for sure.
The process begins by diagnosing the “healthiness” of the poster paper that will be linen-backed in the first place. Professionals won’t linen back any poster that might fall apart or be destroyed during the backing process.
Next, the original paper is rehydrated, and a de-acidifying process is undertaken.
From there, a proprietary blend of wheat starch solutions that includes some kind of alkali buffer is combined together to mount your poster paper onto linen (usually a totally acid-free cotton duck or Japanese lining paper).
After the linen has had time to dry and shrink, it is cut to fit, providing the poster with a more robust and more durable backing that remains relatively flexible as well.
Why Should I Linen Back My Movie Posters?
Above all else, linen backing is primarily a stabilization solution for classic and collectible posters.
The overwhelming majority of “old-school” posters were shipped folded up with creases. Over time they have been ripped and torn and are always on the verge of falling apart just because of their age.
Linen backing flattens them out, helps eliminate old lines, irons out wrinkles and waves, and generally discretely protects the paper.
This may be one of the most innovative ways to protect your poster. Plus, this is a permanent solution that most likely isn’t going to cripple the value of your collectible – but will (in a lot of situations) increase its value quite a bit.
But you will need to have a professional perform this artistic resuscitation. If you allow a novice to do this intricate work, you could very well be causing more harm to your investment and perhaps decreasing its value significantly.
In fact, that’s one of the biggest questions that arise, “will linen backing reduce the value of my old movie poster?” The cool thing is that we go into more detail with this question in the following article.
How Much Does It Cost to Linen Back a Movie Poster?
Before we go over how much it’s likely to cost you to linen back a movie poster, we have to tell you that this isn’t something you’re likely going to want to do to your entire collection.
Linen backing is something you’ll want to save for your most valuable and prestigious posters in the collection.
This isn’t ever going to be a “cheap” form of protecting your poster, that’s for sure.
You see, linen backing is likely going to set you back anywhere between $100 and $1500 or more (sometimes a lot more), depending on various factors.
For one thing, different services are going to charge different prices across the board.
Plus, sometimes, more affordable cotton duck canvas is used to linen back a poster rather than the more expensive linen material. Here is a prime example of the price difference.
- Caravaggio Raw Linen Canvas Rolls 84” × 390” costs around $712.00 (at the time of publishing this article)
- Generic Cotton Duck Canvas Roll 72″ x 360″ costs around $66.00 (at the time of publishing this article)
You may be able to find a relatively new linen backing service willing to do jobs at a discount until they build up a portfolio and a reputation. Still, you’ll also find plenty of experienced pros that charge an arm and a leg to take advantage of their experience and wisdom.
At the end of the day, it’s never a bad idea to look at all your options before you choose to go in one direction or the other.
If you have something like the international version of the Metropolis poster, you’re not going to want to cut any corners.
If, on the other hand, you want to better protect a Jaws poster, you’re probably not looking to spend a small fortune on linen backing.
Consider the value of your poster, how important it is to protect this poster in the future, and what your budget is like.
Finding the right solution for your poster won’t be that hard!
Stay up to date with our poster-related content by signing up for our non-spammy newsletter. The cool thing is that we will be releasing online classes that are dedicated to movie poster design shortly.
Our classes are taught by real-world art directors who create and design movie posters for Hollywood daily, not some teacher or professor who hasn’t stepped foot in an entertainment marketing agency.
The other cool thing is that we have plenty of free online content at our Poster Grind YouTube channel, so check that out when you get a chance!