The Smithsonian Magazine has uncovered five interesting facts concerning picture frames, that are interesting to any art expert. Did you know you can copy a frame without any copyright issues? If not, then read on.

Five Facts About Picture Frames

1. The earliest American frames, known as American Empire Style Frames, are very spare and utilitarian. They are similar to the simple cove or scoop in wall molding found in colonial architecture.

2. An American frame can be distinguished from a European frame by its iconography. The acanthus leaf, for example, is a typically European design. But as America became an agricultural power, around 1850, images of tobacco, corn or wheat begin to appear on frames.

3. Frames change because of historic events. With the advent of photography in the mid 19th-century, a growing middle class began to fashion homemade frames. And by the 1930s, as a new art movement arose, Abstract Expressionism; the new painting style dictated the type of frame that was needed, or in this case was not needed. Abstract Expressionism required no frame or a strip of frame at most.

4. There is no copyright law on frames, so there is no stopping one maker from mimicking another. As a result, many frames were—and still are—designed and produced to look like earlier frames.

5. Artists sometimes also make their own frames for a work of art. Later, an owner of that painting might change the frame for his or her own aesthetic reasons. This displaces or disrupts the artwork’s history.   It was once said that replacing a picture frame on an artwork, even with a hand made picture frame that looked exactly the same would devalue the artwork by up to 50%.   This however turned out to be false information, and reframing has actually added value to the artwork in many cases.

You can find out more on the Smithsonian Magazine website