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  • Cleaning a tin type...

    I have worked on several tin type photos in the past and had very good lick with pulling the image out.

    I was wondering if anyone here had ever tried to "clean" a tin type. If so, how did you go about it?

    I have one that was given to me by a customer that is in VERY bad shape, would make a good challenge!

    It almost looks as though a good cleaning would help it out.

    Thanks,

    Paul

  • #2
    Hi Paul,

    I don't have the book at hand, but a good book is "Conservation of photographs". It deals with the various processes, explaining cleaning, repair and conservation methods. It is now outdated, I think from the late 70's, but it is still very good, although it doesn't go into digital at all. You might find one at the library, or used, online.

    As long as the emulsion is in good shape, I would try using warm water and a cotton swab to carefully clean the image. Avoid using any chemicals unless you research the proper methods for cleaning with them (on tintypes). As you probably know, you might use something that seems harmless, and does a good cleaning job, only to have the image suffer from the cleaning process in the future. If I'm not mistaken, tintypes are collodion emulsions. I'm sure there is a lot of info available on the web if you did a search on "tintype". I always use the "If you aren't sure, don't do it" approach. It would be a shame to have an old image deteriorate because it was handled improperly. You also probably know that different processes behave differently when put in contact with various liquids, gasses, or even certain other tangible things.

    Ed

    Comment


    • #3
      You might want to test a small section before you use water to clean...if it's a gelatin emulsion, water is going to cause some nasty effects. If it is gelatin you might be able to use alcohol to clean it but if it was me, I would find out as much as possible before putting any kind of solvent on it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Here is a little information on identifying artifacts: If you put a drop of water on a non-important part of the image, and after 60 seconds, and carefully blotting it, the image shows deterioration, it is gelatin. Collodion and albumen are not affected by water. Gelatin can swell, or become partially liquified. Collodion dissolves in alcohol, gelatin swells in water, and albumen in unaffected by either. I did a quick search, and most places recommend using a soft brush, but no further cleaning is recommended, unless done by a conservator. We do have two conservators who are members of the site, but I think it's been a while since either have visited. After reading this, if the tintype belonged to a customer, I probably wouldn't attempt cleaning. But if it were mine, I would try the warm water method, testing first to be absolutely sure, although I think all tintypes were collodion. Of course, if it had important historical value, it would go to a conservator for cleaning.

        Ed

        Comment


        • #5
          As the tin was given to my by a customer for me to keep and do as I want, I tried the water test on a part of the image that wouldn't matter. After blotting it off, the image area had swelled a bit indicating that it is a gelatin image.

          It DID clean the image a little, I may try cleaning the whole image quickly and see what happens. Sometime in the search for knowledge, things have to be sacrificed.

          I did scan the image at very high resolution so I can work with it later. I would like to get the scan cleaner. Cleaning the image would help, but if I lose it in the process, I still have the original scan.

          Would anyone be interested in a good challenge??

          Thanks for the input.

          Paul

          Comment


          • #6
            Paul,

            Another thing you could try is to use a very soft gum eraser on the emulsion. I've done this very successfully many times, although not with a tintype. But since the tintype is usually a pretty hard surface, I would try it unless the emulsion is cracking, or otherwise in poor shape. Typically, tintypes do not have good contrast, and people sometimes try cleaning in an effort to get contrast, which proves to be non-effective.

            Ed

            Comment


            • #7
              Ed,

              This one is cracked and has vertually NO contrast at all. It is also dirty. The image it there, but very faint. I an hopping that cleaning it will help a bit.

              I don't think an eraser would do any good on this image.

              How would I go about posting it for a challenge??

              Thanks,
              Paul

              Comment


              • #8
                Paul,

                Just send it to Doug. [email protected]
                I'd like to see it myself.

                Ed

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paul Rupp

                  How would I go about posting it for a challenge??

                  Thanks,
                  Paul
                  chech out this thread here about submitting challenge photos. I'd be interested to see it too, there's been a couple tin type challenges but I never got to trying any out, and it's type of restoration I really should try to lear how to do.

                  - David

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I am some what surprised that you all are even touching the emulsion on a tintype, let alone using earsers etc. All the tintypes I have seen have been rusting under the emulsion and as a consequence are beyond fragile!
                    When I copied with film, I found that the very flat images would copy very well with a high contrast film/developer combination. The last one I had in the studio I copied with a digital camera, since I did not want to lay it down on the scanner. Anyway after I captured the image I did a channel selection to get the best BW image, then a curve correction and had a nice (meaning density and contrast) image. Then on to doing whatever spotting etc and printing out a print for a totaly amazed customer! The difference between the orginal and the copy can be quite dramatic.
                    I would really advise that you play with all the curves etc corrections rather than run the risk of doing damage to the orginal.
                    Mike

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ed,

                      You should have it in your mail box soon.

                      If you post it as a challange, please let me know.

                      Paul

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Paul,

                        It's about 7:10, and I didn't get it. Just as well though. It needs to be mailed to Doug for challenges. It's best to mail him a small file to look at. Then if he wants it for a challenge, he'll tell you to send a larger file. [email protected]

                        Ed

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Opps!

                          See what happens when your in a hurry!! I sent it to Doug!

                          My mistake!! Hope he posts it as a challenge.

                          Thanks,
                          Paul

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This is now posted as restoration challenge #46.

                            Good luck!

                            Paul

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I downloaded that one Paul. I think you should use some Draino on it!

                              Ed

                              Comment

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