Daybills With Character!

Man Alive! was a 1945 romantic comedy staring Pat O’Brien, Adolph Menjou and Ellen Drew. The plot couldn’t be more basic as a businessman (Pat O’Brien) is reported dead in a car accident; he then begins to haunt the suitors of his wife, namely Rude Vallee.

While tackling this linenbacking and restoration project, the interior of the poster itself was in good shape, but the top and bottom borders had quite a few rips and tears that would demand a careful wash and backing process. A unique feature of this Australian Daybill is that it was produced by RKO Pictures, for whatever reason, most of this studio’s daybills have no white border surrounding the artwork; a first of its kind for me to work on, it was a pleasure!

The poster was first washed with a mild organic soap to remove surface dirt, it was then given a 20 min deacidification bath in which the acids in the paper were “pushed out.” The final stage of the wash included a mild bleaching to remove some of the toning to the paper, and some foxing (staining) on the bottom border.

It emerged in great shape, and ready for a light restoration of the tears on the top and sides; after some light restoration with water color pencils, the poster was ready to be cut out off it’s frame, and readied for framing and display!

Poster prior to wash shows some toning, multiple tears at top and bottom borders, and some small foxing spots on the bottom border.
backside of poster shows some toning (darkening) of poster and the multiple rips/tears on top and bottom borders.
Bottom border showing tears, toning and foxing.
bottom border; some small spots, foxing indicates this poster will need at least a mild bleaching.
Bottom border.
Bottom right border. More tears, foxing, toning to the paper. Careful handling would be needed when washing this poster to not enlarge the tears.
backside of poster at top-the paper is fragile at this stage; it will be greatly stabilized after its wash and mounting on masa paper & canvas.
another backside images of the top border.
backside photo of the bottom border.
small grease pencil that would have to be removed prior to the wash. Also note the very light brown spots (foxing) that would need to be bleached out during the wash process.
Poster as it sits on the wash table. The deacidification bath has already lightened up the paper before the bleaching process.
The poster has been through the wash (conservation) stage and is in the process of drying out before the acid-free wheat starch adhesive is applied and it is glued to the acid-free masa paper.
The poster after it has been washed and backed onto an acid-free Japanese Masa paper, which is supported by a 12 ounce cotton canvas duck cloth.
The poster has dried for 4 days, it is now time to apply some water color pencils and begin touch ups.
Restoration is complete!  The bottom border was left “au natural” per client request and it looks great! The poster has been cut from its canvas frame, excess linen/masa trimmed to a one-inch border, and it’s ready to be shipped back to its owner in Australia for framing! Looking great!




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