As the recommended framer of the College of Arms in the City of London, we have framed many Coats of Arms, Letters Patent, Indentures and similar works from the time of Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth II. The challenges presented by vellum, parchment and similar substrates with or without attached wax/resin seals are numerous and require careful attention to detail. Due to the nature of prepared animal skin substrates extra special attention and care must be taken when locating and hanging the framed artefact.
Vellum is untanned animal skin, a natural, organic material and it is particularly susceptible to humidity and temperature. When used for support for calligraphy and painting the process may involve folding, irregular cutting and the attachment of cords, ribbons or wax seals. The finished manuscript is often presented rolled in a scroll form, for all these reasons it is very likely that it will not lie completely flat; this irregularity is very much part of the character of the artefact. As mentioned, animal membranes such as vellum are particularly susceptible to humidity, so when mounting, our approach is to avoid attaching anything directly to the vellum and to hold the document in place with inert Mylar strips and/or museum-quality mounts and slips. Wax seals and seal tin lids are supported by precision-cut mounts and/or transparent non-invasive threads.
We have framed many documents on coloured velvet backgrounds (red, blue, purple etc.) or handmade papers, as well as many with precision, computer-cut mounts and the results are always impressive. Wide gilt or plain wood frames are also a popular choice for a simpler look.
We would always advise on the use of a high percentage UV filtering glass or acrylic to protect your document against fading of inks and pigments or discolouration and deterioration of the substrate. If reflection might be a problem, modern, anti-reflection glass is advisable.
Extra care must be taken to avoid hanging the framed item in direct sunlight and in areas of higher heat or humidity such as a bathroom or above a radiator. Minor changes may be noticeable due to changing seasonal or environmental conditions. Although the backs used are moisture-resistant, please ensure the wall used for hanging is dry and that there is space behind for air to freely circulate.