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

Proper Display

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Old 12-05-2001, 07:30 PM
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thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
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Proper Display

One of the main killers of old photos is improper display. As more and more folks begin searching through attics,basements, old trunks etc., the number of old photos being dragged out and displayed is increasing and with that the need to educate your customers on the proper display methods so as to not inadvertently cause these photos to deteriorate at alarming rates. This past week I have seen three albumin prints which were improperly displayed and as a consiquence suffered various degrees of damage.
First, encourage yout customers to have a copy made of the original and use that for display. It is easier and less painful to replace a copy than to see an original "just fade away".
Second, encourage folks to have the originals matted with acid free matting material and displayed in a frame, under glass, preferably of a type with a UV blocking coating. Strongly discourage display of the originals for extended periods...current thinking holds that these should be kept in a cool dark place with humidity levels kept around 30-50%, and only displayed sparingly.
Third, Avoid hanging the photos on outside walls, over baseboard heaters or vents, or in rooms which have been freshly painted, especially with oil based paints as the compounds released by the drying process will attack photos. Latex paints are also to be suspected..
Forth, avoid hanging the photos where sunlight or flourescent light falls directly on them. The UV component of these light sources will damage the photo in a remarkably short time, especially older hand tinted ones or albumin prints which still hold the tint which was commonly added to the albumin to disguise yellowing. Many of these old dyes/tints are very light sensitive.
Fifth, High humidity is probably the single greatest threat to old photos. Because of their make up, high humidity along with retained processing chemicals will cause fading,discoloration and, especially for albumin and gelatin prints, mold growth becomes a problem. Avoid displaying these old ones in places like kitchens, bathrooms...anywhere the humidity has a tendency to be high.
I have a flyer detailing suggested display methods which goes out with every order and to any one inquiring about having work done. If nothing else, its good PR and folks seem to appreciate the info. Tom
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Old 12-05-2001, 07:32 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Here, here! Excellent points.

And I must emphasize the importance of matting when using glass. It's not just a design decision, the matting keeps the glass from contacting the print. Also, only special tape (or nothing at all) should be used to affix the photo to the mat.
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Old 12-05-2001, 08:05 PM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Very good points Tom. If people had been keeping all the photos in a good environment, just think of all the gems we could have. You would think that since 150 years ago, there were certain conditions or things (glue for instance) that were suspected of being detrimental, it would now be common knowledge. Unfortunately, most of us have had to learn the hard way.

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Old 12-05-2001, 08:53 PM
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DJ Dubovsky DJ Dubovsky is offline
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Excellent thread Tom. These are all things we regularly do with our prints without a thought. It's good to know what to do to handle these antique prints that can't be replaced.
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