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

Storage of old photos

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Old 08-12-2008, 06:46 PM
Lynda99 Lynda99 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 38
Storage of old photos

I need to buy new acid free boxes and envelopes for old family photos.

Should I buy the mildly alkaline type? It makes sense to put them in an alkaline environment, but I thought I'd get some expert opinions.

Also, I already have opaque Mylar large envelopes (silver colored). These aren't specific to photographs. Should I use these as a secondary barrier, or is that dangerous business?
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:25 PM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 1,211
Re: Storage of old photos

Much depends on what you mean by old. Prints can vary a lot in their chemistry depending on when they were produced. As a general rule, a neutral pH is best when the ages vary.

Stay away from the mylar envelopes you describe. Plasticizers in any plastics tend to leach over time and can cause harm. Plasticizers tend to become gummy and corrosive.

You should really sort out the older images, determine their type, and store differently based upon that. And, of course, re-photograph all of them for archiving purposes... just in case.
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Old 08-17-2008, 11:57 PM
Lynda99 Lynda99 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 38
Re: Storage of old photos

I have images dating from the mid-1800's. I've had them well-stored, but I hadn't really thought of doing specific storage, or specific pH, for different types. Thanks for the tip, some are really excellent and I'd hate to lose them.

I worked at a commercial photo lab in the 80's, so I have medium format negs of everything. I probably should be storing those more carefully, too.
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