Frequently Asked Questions
HANDLING AND FRAMING FINE ART PRINTS
At Blue Monocle we love to explore history and find connections between the modern world and the past. We're fascinated by old maps and photos (and, well, antique prints of any kind, really) and we've put together a collection of images of antique maps, vintage photos, and vintage posters that are historically significant, show fascinating views the past, and that in most cases are just plain beautiful to look at.
Blue Monocle started as a fine art print shop, and all of the images on our site are still available for purchase as fine art print reproductions. Our images have been lovingly restored to ensure a high quality fine art print. There are two places where you can purchase prints:
We've selected a subset of the most popular and interesting images from our collection for sale on Etsy. We print all of the items in our Etsy store ourselves using 100% cotton fine art papers and archival pigments inks.
All of our images are available at Fine Art America for purchase as fine art prints on a variety of print surfaces, including matte fine art paper, photo paper, canvas, and more. Fine Art America also offers framing and mounting services so you can purchase a print that's ready to hang on your wall.
No, we don't buy or sell any originals. For antique maps, a good list of dealers in the US can be found here: http://www.maprecord.com/Dealers_US.html, and in the rest of the world here: http://www.maprecord.com/Dealers_International.html. Many of the dealers listed on those pages also sell original vintage photos and posters.
I think I have an original antique map or print. Can you help me figure out if it's real and how much it's worth?
While we have some experience working with original antique maps and prints, we're not experts. The best thing to do is to find an expert in your area so you can show them the print in person, since it's very hard to determine the authenticity and value of a print without seeing it first hand. We recommend that you find an antique map/print dealer in your area–most dealers will be able to appraise your print for you (usually for a fee). You may also consider contacting your local historical museum or society, or a local university library to see if they have someone on staff with expertise in antique maps and prints who can assist you.
You're in luck! We've put together a list of resources to help: Where to Find More Information about Antique Maps
Many of our vintage photo prints are in color and are based on photos printed at the turn of the 20th century before the advent of color photography. These photos are called Photochroms, and were printed using a color lithography process that started with black and white photographic negatives and added color using the standard lithographic process. Read more about the Photochrom process.
When handling a fine art print, hold the paper by the edges only–never touch the printed surface. Oils on your hands could transfer to the print, potentially degrading the quality. If plan to handle photo prints often, it's best to wear cotton archival gloves, since dirt and fingerprints show up on photo paper more readily than on matte papers.
When framing your print, always use all acid-free materials, and for best protection we recommend that you use glass or acrylic with UV filtering. Never hang your print where it will receive any direct sunlight.
Light: Regular exposure to light, especially ultraviolet light (UV) will cause fading over time. It's best to keep your print away from sources of UV light, especially direct sunlight. Other sources of UV light include fluorescent lamps and some halogen lamps. While dark storage offers the best protection against light, most people choose to frame and display their print. Choose a glass or acrylic with UV filtering when framing to obtain the best protection. Never hang your print where it will receive any direct sunlight.
Temperature: Avoid storing or displaying your print in high or extremely low temperatures for long periods of time. The optimum temperature range is 68°-77° F (20°-25° C). Don't worry if your temperature goes outside this ranges for short terms, but definitely try to avoid keeping your print in extreme temperatures for longer periods.
Humidity: Avoid storing or displaying your print in high or extremely low humidity. The optimum humidity range is 30-50% relative humidity. If you're concerned about longevity and have your print in an environment of extended low or high humidity, you may consider getting a humidifer (for low humidity) or de-humidifier (for high humidity).
Atmospheric Contaminants: Pollutants such as cigarette smoke, cooking fumes, and other chemicals also can affect print longevity. Prints should be stored to avoid contact with air, or framed behind glass or acrylic (especially glass with UV filtering). Never store or display your print in an area where chemicals are stored.
Acidity: Print quality can diminish if prints are stored or displayed in direct contact to materials with high acidity. Acidic materials can cause the paper to discolor and may change the colors in the print. When storing or framing your print, make sure to use only acid-free archival materials.