Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Passe Partout Framing - Coming To A Sticky End...

A reel of Samuel Jones Butterfly Brand passe partout tape. Passe partout was becoming passé in the 1960s.

Samuel Jones, a company that had a factory in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, not far from my home town, made passe partout. It was a paper tape - used to frame pictures. The tape could be bought in reels and, once water was applied to the gummed side, would stick to a range of surfaces FOREVER!

Lordy, was it sticky!

For passe partout tape framing, one would select a picture, buy glass cut to measure, make a backing card for the picture, insert passe partout hanging rings into the reverse of the backing card, mount the picture on the front, place the glass over it and tape the whole lot together. There really was an art to passe partout - it could be terribly messy.

But, carefully done, passe partout frames could look pretty darned special. The tape came in a range of attractive finishes.

Passe partout was popular for many, many years, but was in decline by the 1960s. The reels pictured above date from around then. My gran used to get us children doing passe partout pictures on rainy days when we visited her in the 70s, and I last bought a reel of passe partout to frame a picture for my bedsit in 1986.

By then, with a wide range of cheap ready-made picture frames available, passe partout tape framing was really on its last legs. I'm told that the last reels were sold in the early 1990s.

A brand of tape is sold today which is sometimes referred to as "passe partout", but it is cloth, not paper, and bears no resemblance to the tape described here.

Above and below - front and back views of a passe partout picture framing kit box from the 1950s or '60s.

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