Picture frames were very elaborate during Victorian times. The rectangular frame for an oil painting could be 3 or 4 inches deep with several different types of carving on the borders.
And the frame often was covered with gold leaf. Small frames were sometimes made of carved pieces of dark wood joined in a crisscross fashion. The simple silver frame favored today for photographs was unknown to Victorians. They preferred odd-shaped silver-plated frames with added figures or objects because they liked lots of ornamentation.
Their picture frames often were more important than the pictures in them, and added decorative value to a group display. Today, picture frames and mats are made to enhance pictures.
During the past 25 years, museums and serious collectors have tried to keep pictures in their original frames. Artists, after all, often made the frames to go with a special “look” they were trying to achieve. Landscapes were put in frames with wide borders that slanted into the painting, giving added depth. Signed picture frames by known makers sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Do not put a new frame on an old painting, print or drawing before you learn what type of frame it ought to have. And if you have some old frames, you might try to sell them. Their prices might surprise you.