Restoring A Classic 1968 RIAA LP White Matte – And A Chance To Look Inside

Q. Who are Rod McKuen, Anita Kerr and Joe Smith? And what do they have in common (besides you don’t know who they are)?

A. Rod McKuen was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 60’s. Anita Kerr is an American singer, arranger, composer, conductor, pianist, and music producer. And Joe Smith is an illustrious long time record company executive. In 1967 their talents came together on a series of albums by the San Sebastian Strings including The Sea which was released in April of 1967, certified RIAA gold on 12/30/68, and reached a peak chart position of #52. Here you see it honored with an Authentic, First Presentation, First-State RIAA White Matte award – with condition issues…20160702_183607_Richtone(HDR)The biggest condition issue is easy to see, the presentation plate has fallen off. And if that weren’t enough, it’s somehow wedged itself under the bottom of the disc. The backing paper on the other hand, is in relatively good condition for an award of this age. The tears you see come from the normal handling of an award…20160628_174157_Richtone(HDR)So what to do? Repair or not to repair? There are different perspectives among collectors. I believe that awards, like antique furniture or coins, keep their value best in original “as found” condition, or carefully restored with original components. And then, unless they are going to be displayed, stored flat in poly bags for protection. In this case I decided it made sense to repair, not because it was going to be displayed, but to share the original construction of a White Matte, and offer a step by step process for repairing one, if needed. Here’s how it came out…20160716_182030-001


Here are the steps to my repair…

1. Take good pictures of the “as found” award’s full front and back to become part of it’s provenance.
2. Create a surface to work on. Use a soft towel on a well lit surface and begin by placing the award face down on the towel.
 3.  Cut along three sides of the backing paper using a razor blade. 20160716_170606
4. Then by folding the paper back on the uncut side expose the backing board and small nails that attach it to the frame. To guide realigning when reassembled, draw a small pencil mark in one location from the backing board to the side of the frame . 20160716_170749
 5. Using needle nose pliers gently take out the smalls nails that hold everything in place and put them in a container so the wouldn’t get lost.
6. With the matte face down you will see the masking tape that holds the disc, mini, and plate in place. It’s this masking tape that over the years has dried out and let the plate slip.
7. From underneath push up on a corner of the front glass and gently slide out the backing board, matte, and glass. Turn the matte over and, in this case, take the plate out. Clean the plate and disc lightly with a soft cloth and glass glass cleaner and softly brush and dust the matte.20160716_171740
8. If the masking tape is still attached to the back of the matte I recommend using two pieces of two sided photographic tape on the face of the existing tape to hold the reinstalled plate. If the tape on the back of the matte is loose you might want to tape down the side edges with masking tape – or in some cases a full re-tape could be necessary. If so, re-tape in the same pattern as the original.
 9. With the new tape on, re-attach the plate in its proper position and press firmly.
10. Clean the glass on both sides. A soft cloth and glass cleaner should do the trick. Much of the gunk you see on the face of an old award comes from normal oxidation and stuff that got into the award at the time of manufacture or was allowed in from the small tears on the backing paper.
Before cleaning the glass…
 After cleaning the glass…
 10. With all the pieces cleaned – reassemble the award. First put the glass into the frame, then the matte, then the backing board (aligned to pencil mark you created). Take care to dust and clean as you reassemble to keep everything clean. Use a flat head screwdriver to push nails into the same holes they came from. Then fold the backing paper back over the award and tape it closed with masking tape.
 In this case with the award repaired, it’s time to place it in a polyethylene bag to protect it, and store it flat to protect it in the future…20160716_182218


Have you thought about selling your awards? I’d love to talk with you, please contact me at (818) 416-3770 or Thanks, Jim

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