Hey What Happened to that Poster?

You may remember in October, the Erie County Fair sent a poster from 1883 to be restored (if you don’t remember, click here to read the story and get caught up). Well, it is back and has quite the story to tell of its journey!

Here was the poster before the work began (in case you didn’t want to read the first story): OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Laura Schell of Lockport took to the task right away and for those who don’t know much about what it takes to restore a poster from 1883, here is exactly what she has been doing all those months:

First, the poster was glued to brown paper with spray adhesive and then glued again to foam core. It was done quite unevenly, we may add and proved to be quite the challenge to remove.


After Schell saw what she was up against, she gave the poster a little massage. Using soft grated gum eraser crumbs and her fingers she was able to clean up the surface dirt off of much of the poster.  Many parts of the poster were to fragile for this step.

Then came the un-doing of the gluing! Using a metal spatula Schell carefully scrapped away first the foam core and then the brown paper. This left our poor old poster in three distinct pieces.


The sections bid each other farewell as they were soaked separately in an aqueous (water based) bath for about 40 minutes and then left out to air dry.



Once dry, the three sections were humidified and and placed on its new liner, mulberry paper. Instead of spray adhesive, Schell opted for a safer option of wheat starch paste.

After taking part of the journey on their own, the three sections were reunified again as they have been since 1883 by being lined up and pasted with wheat starch paste.

The now unified poster was headed for a makeover now! Large holes and missing pieces were filled with Japanese tissue and colored with acrylics. Small holes were filled with paper pulp that was dyed in a similar tone.

After all of the light handiwork Schell did, it was time for some heavy lifting. This came when the poster had to be flattened. The poster was first humidified and taped lightly to the table to begin the flattening process. Then it was humidified again, placed between sheets of fabric and  weighed down.


Finally, the pulp fills were colored in with colored pencils.

…..drum roll for the big reveal…..


And that’s it. Sounds simple right? At the end of these months the poster looks incredible and has been cared for in a way that will no doubt add decades to its life, if not centuries! 

The fully restored poster is now headed for framing. It will then be on display at the Visit Buffalo Niagara Gallery at the Market Arcade building on Main Street downtown.

People have already been asking where they can get a replica of this poster and the Fair is happy to announce our friends at the Buffalo News will be giving a replica copy to each of their new subscribers at the Erie County Fair! Look for the Buffalo News on the back side of Hamburg Gaming, sign up for a newspaper subscription and ta-da you have your very own 1883 Erie County Fair poster.


This blog is dedicated to the memory of poster pieces that could not be salvaged.