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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

Removing old glued photos from paper

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Old 09-07-2005, 09:33 PM
SuzyWeaver1 SuzyWeaver1 is offline
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Question Removing old glued photos from paper

Hi there -- a newbie here...

I'm "attempting" to update my in-laws' old photo album for their 50th Anniversary (Sat. the 1oth). The paper is very very very old... and the pictures are glued on both sides! They just won't budge without ripping them. I tried holding them over a steaming pot of water, but am afraid they will get damaged. Any help here would be GREATLY appreciated ~

Thank you thank you thank (in advance)

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Old 09-07-2005, 10:00 PM
SuzyWeaver1 SuzyWeaver1 is offline
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hullo again...

Maybe this isn't the right forum for my problem... sorry, but I just googled my dilemma and came up with this site -- looks like a very good one too! Sure hope there's a genie in this jar though.
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Old 09-07-2005, 11:34 PM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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hi suzy,

and welcome to RP!

there are a couple threads on this here in the forums....somewhere. try a search and see if you cant find them.

and just to clarify this, when you say glued on both sides, i'm assuming that the picture is glued to the page, but that now the opposing page is glued to the front of the picture as well?

and just as preliminary work to help any others that come along to help, can you identify the paper type at all, or describe it? and maybe what year these photos were taken to help identify emulsion types and photo paper types? dont know if those will really help anyone, but certainly cant hurt.

also, if the album had plastic pages, was it one of those 'magnetic' type photo albums where the plastic has sort of a magnetic effect on laying down on the prints?

i've done some minor separation on a few photos of my own. what i did was take one drop of water and place it between the edges of the prints. in my case it was multiple prints stuck together in a pile. using just that one drop of water, i'd let it soak in a bit and then very, VERY gently apply a minute amount of pressure, just enough to see if the water was doing any good. if it was, then i'd keep separating as far as the less sticky images would allow. when it would no longer allow then i'd apply one more drop and do the same again until i had the prints apart.

but yours is a different situation, so i'm not sure. did the glue from the one page bleed through to the other side and cause this sticking, or is it more just the paper got damp or something from humidity and is now sticking? also, if you believe it is the glue causing the problem, can you identify the type of glue?

any information you can give might be helpful.

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Old 09-08-2005, 12:32 AM
SuzyWeaver1 SuzyWeaver1 is offline
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Oh thank you !! sooo much Craig for responding so quickly (even though I did throw in a bit of pity begging...)

Okay, here's the deal:

The pictures date back to the late forties / early fifties on up to the sixties. Each one was "glued" (probably with white "Elmers" glue) to a black paper photo album page (about 6, 4"x4" photos to a page) and then on the other side of the same piece of paper/page, 6 or so more pictures are glued with the same type of glue. So, we've got about 40, 10" x 13" pieces of deteriorating [1950ish photo album] paper with precious photos glued on each side. We've scanned them all and my husband is presenting them with a dvd consisting of a collage of these wonderful old memories - narrated, music, flashing special effects, the whole deal. But, I wanted so much to put these photos in an album that will not only be more presentable (since the old one is literally falling apart), but also to preserve it as a keepsake for the entire family, by separating each photo from it's paralyzed prison, and placing it in an album that, to me, is gloriously nostalgic.

Don’t even know if it can be done – but, you can fill an auditorium with things I don’t know and other folks do ~ so, I’m just hoping this isn’t a fantasy of mine and someone will pop out of the blue and say – “Here’s the deal Suzy ...”

Thanks again for your interest! I look forward to some more feedback – This is a great site !

~ Suzy
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Old 03-16-2009, 04:05 PM
4me2u 4me2u is offline
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Re: Removing old glued photos from paper

I just joined this site and stumbled upon it looking for the same advice you seemed to be looking for. Have you tried it? Did it work? Have you found any other solutions?
I have old photo albums dating back from the 40's with the old, black, soft paper pages. The photos used to be in the corner holders years ago and could be removed easily but now have been unceremoniously removed, glued and pasted to the pages (both sides) so I can't cut them apart and I am not having much success removing them. I am trying to share photos with cousins but am at a standstill. Advice???
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Old 03-17-2009, 12:44 PM
Steve Conway's Avatar
Steve Conway Steve Conway is offline
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Re: Removing old glued photos from paper

Here is a suggestion that might work for you.

I would take one of the photos that will not be a great loss if this does not work, and do this. Cut this picture or pictures, since there are some on both sides, out of the album, that is, into a small piece page and all. This way you can work with it easier. Then dip the whole thing, picture, page and all in water till it is saturated. If it is like most old album paper it will fall apart, but the photo, unless it is brittle and cracked anyway, should not. When it was originally printed the photo was done in a wet solution and then dried.

If this works and you have the photo off the paper, you can then dry it. One way is to hang it with a clothespin from a string. If you want to keep it from curling you can put it face up on a very smooth metal cookie sheet and dry it in an oven on VERY LOW heat. (Watch this step closely. Would be best to use the lowest heat setting the oven has and check it every couple of minutes or so.) Normally they will pop loose from the cookie sheet when dry.

Just try this on a photo that won't be a loss if it does not work.

I got this idea from a personal experience which is similar. A bunch of my loose photos in a box got wet and dried in one big stuck-together mess. So I re-wet them and slowly peeled them apart and altho not all were saved, most of them came apart. After drying them again they were almost as good as before.

Good luck, and let us know how you come out.

Craig's suggestion sounds good also, if you don't want to do it the way I suggest.

Another way would be to scan the photos into your computer and re-print them and re-do your album that way. Some image software has album makers built in.

Steve C.

Last edited by Steve Conway; 03-17-2009 at 12:55 PM.
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