x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

How to repair an antique poster

The UAE's fast-growing art scene is attracting a small but highly skilled community of experts. Most of them are auctioneers and curators, but there are a few craftspeople who might be able to help.

We have an antique poster from 1904 that was damaged by our movers, so we need to have it restored. Do you know of any company in the UAE that could do this for us?

I'm not surprised that you want to take care of your poster. Apart from its aesthetic and sentimental value, it could be worth a fortune. In 2005, a poster for the 1927 science fiction movie Metropolis set a world record when it fetched $690,000 (Dh2.5 million).

The first question to ask is whether it really needs to be repaired. If the damage is not extensive, some collectors would be quite happy with a poster that is a little rough around the edges - they believe it creates character and makes the original stand out from pristine replicas.

If you do repair the poster, think long and hard about how and where. A few years ago it would have been unthinkable to get it repaired in the UAE, but the country's fast-growing art scene is attracting a small but highly skilled community of experts. Most of them are auctioneers and curators, but there are a few craftspeople who might be able to help. Try a reputable gallery such as Art Select at Emirates Towers in Dubai. They will give you honest advice on whether or not they can fix it.

It is likely that you'll have to send the poster overseas for repair. The United States is the world's most sophisticated market for this, and home to a number of expert repairers and restorers. They will advise you on how to package your poster before you send it to avoid more logistical headaches. The guys at Posterfix in New York (www.posterfix.com) were particularly helpful when I contacted them.

Typically, restorers will charge about $50 (Dh185) per hour spent on your poster, plus materials. As well as repairing the damage, they may also be able to retouch parts of the poster that are looking tired. Your poster is more than 100 years old, so I'm guessing it must be a little worn. Again, think hard about whether you want to restore the poster to its original glory, or enjoy the weathered, aged look.

Finally, think about how you will preserve and protect your poster over the next century. Linen backing is a popular technique for making your poster more durable. A professional restorer will mount your poster on cloth (traditionally it has been linen, although most people today use cotton duct, which is much cheaper and does the job just as well).

Pallavi Dean is an award-winning independent design consultant who practises in the UAE. If you have a question for her, email homes@thenational.ae