The eyelets on the back of the larger plaques are often found to be loose, these can be refixed by using an epoxy resin adhesive to glue them in. If they are loose and are of the steel type then change them for the brass version, brass does not corrode and leave the tell tale brown stain of rust that can be seen on some plaques. If the eyelets are not loose then do not disturb them. If on the other hand they have broken out leaving a stub behind or have even taken out a chunk of the plaque, your alternative would be to use something like a plate display stand or better still, to frame them. The sketch below shows the framing method that was used by Osbornes. A little patience and effort and you can make up your own frames in this method using modern frame mouldings, we have framed several of our own collection in this way, unfortunately ready made frames can not be bought off the shelf due to the varying sizes of Osbornes plaques, each frame has to be made to measure. You could supply the plaque dimensions and frame requirements to a professional frame maker and get your frames custom built. For those who are into DIY the details are below.
The frame is really two frames in one, the inner, velvet covered frame contains the plaque and the outer black lacquered frame holds the glass and the inner frame assembly, the outer frame has the eyelet fixings for wall hanging. In the Osborne made frames the inner assembly and the outer frame are held together by eyelets fitted to the inner frame at right angles and then a screw is inserted into the outer frame. The whole of the back is then covered in a paper to keep out dust.
On most plaques that one finds the original hanging cords are still in place and while it is nice to have this touch of originality one should remember these cords are by now starting to get a little tired and sooner or later will fail. If you intend to display the plaques by means other than hanging then keep the cord intact but if you are going to hang the plaque on a wall you need to take precautions. Our solution to this is to fit picture wire to all the plaques that we hang, framed or unframed the cords are replaced.
We have heard of folk using soap and water and from some of the plaques that we have seen it looks like they have used scrubbing brushes and paint stripper as well, but we have another solution. Water and plaques do not mix well, a small chink in the wax coating and the plaster of the plaque will suck in water like a sponge, the paint finish will suffer and the plaster in the area of contamination will start to crumble, also the eyelet rings on the back, if made of steel, will rust almost before your eyes.
Our solution for cleaning surface grime from plaques is to use a wax polish, we use a clear hard wax (not a spray can) that is silicon free. A soft cloth and small circular motions with a finger will lift surface grime and impart a layer of wax that can be buffed to a nice shine, care should still be taken, as with this method one can still penetrate the original wax coating and rub away some of the colours, this is especially true with regard to the ink stamp on the back of plaques, some dirt and some staining will not be removed, but this has to be expected when one considers the conditions that some of these plaques will have lived through.
If you have an original frame version the chances are that the paper backing has never been disturbed indicating that the frame has not been opened since the day that it was made and now the internal surface of the glass has become dirty.........dilemma time.......do you open it up just to clean the glass and thus destroy its originality.? Well it is a matter of personal preference, these plaques were meant to be enjoyed and seen through crystal clear glass, yes we would open it up and clean the glass. In these cases the plaque itself seems to have remained clean and the dust has accumulated just on the glass, if it needs to be done then do it, the results are worthwhile.
Modern homes do not suffer from dampness as in olden times but risk of dampness should be avoided ie: places like bathrooms and kitchens are not the place to hang a plaque, water vapor is no friend of Ivorex.
Temptation tells you to place your plaques on a brightly list wall where the full glory of the colours will shine forth, beware, if you do, the colours will not shine forth for too long, they are water based colours and will fade in bright sunlight even the paraffin wax coating will deteriorate under strong sunlit conditions. An indirectly well lit wall, away from any central heating radiators will suffice, and the colours will last a long, long time.
Plaques look their best hung upon the wall but unframed examples also look very nice on a shelf using plate stands, however, if you have too many items to put them all on the wall, a good storage / display method is to use a plan chest, these are chests of shallow drawers usually containing between six and twelve drawers that were made to hold plans or drawings. These shallow drawers are ideal for laying out a display of your collection, they protect the plaques from dust and damage and you can arrange your collection by categories. This great idea originated from Ron Edgar (see other keen collectors) and is now used by us......... always looking for new ideas. Plan chests can be bought new from office furniture suppliers or second hand from resellers of used office equipment...... we used the second option....... much cheaper.!