Displaying paper money requires using safe matting, framing and mounting

Preserving Collectibles column from the Dec. 29, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 12/11/14
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From time to time collectors ask how they can safely display their collection of paper notes. This month I will review this topic.

There are two major conservation concerns related to framing and exhibiting a paper note.

First, there is the issue of light. Exhibiting a paper note places it at risk from light damage. Light causes inks to fade and paper to degrade.

Second, inappropriate framing techniques and materials can also damage a note irreparably. I consider framing a paper note similar to framing a work of art on paper. The conservation concerns and techniques are similar.


Framed paper notes, like works of art on paper, should be glazed. The glass protects the paper from dust and pollutants in the air.

Some framers offer glass that is specially treated to screen out ultraviolet light. Readers will remember that UV is a very active portion of the light spectrum that can cause considerable damage. Choosing UV glass will protect against the UV component of the spectrum but not visible light. Visible light causes damage as well. So, be careful not to expose your notes to high levels of either natural or artificial light.


Framed works should always be mounted so that there is an air space between the glass and the note. The note should not be in direct contact with the glass. This is usually accomplished by placing a window mat around the work.

The choice of matboard can greatly affect the long-term health and wellbeing of a note. Choose an acid- and lignin-free matboard. Good-quality, acid-free matboard is now readily available at most framing stores at only a slightly higher price than acidic board.

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