Cleaning Old and Badly Stored Photos?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Ben Taylor, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. Ben Taylor

    Ben Taylor Member

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    I have recently been given a few of my late grandfathers photographs, some that he exhibited and some that have been hidden for years.

    They are all mounted, presumably by him - but have been badly stored in an old, rusty trunk for years. The most recent is dated 1984 and I think they've been stored since around then.

    The photos themselves show no signs of fading or deterioration, but some are stained by the rust and there is grime on most of them (some even have surface marks from spiders that had made their home with them!).

    I would like to clean them if I can, so that I can frame them, but since they're all mounted I don't know how I should go about it. Would cleaning with alcohol on cotton wool damage the print (how would this effect the mount)?

    Does any one have any ideas how I should proceed?
     
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, Ben,

    I can't offer much specific advice on cleaning or restoration, except to go extremely slowly and carefully, preferably starting on an unimportant print and in a peripheral area of the print. Kodak Film Cleaner might work, depending on the type of foreign material on the print. Best advice in such situations is to make a high-quality copy negative of each print FIRST, before any cleaning or restoration is attempted. It's getting harder to find specialized copy films nowadays, but something like Kodak Commercial (4127) or Kodak Professional Copy (4125) sheet films would be ideal for copying old B & W prints.

    Konical
     
  3. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I would suggest "PEC-12 Archival Photographic Emulsion Cleaner". It comes in a 4 oz pump-spray bottle, and is sold by most phtot stores, like B&H, etc. I've used it on silver-gelatin with no problems.
     
  4. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Life Time printed a set of basic photo books in the early 70's to early 80's one text was just for caring and restoring old photos. Kodak also published a very good book on caring for old photos. I would check the web and find a good text with step by step directions. I would also scan the prints to disk (if the prints are not so large as not fit on flatbed scanner) I would check to see if your grandfather's negatives are still around.
     
  5. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    I use PEC-12 often but I would caution that, while it is good for removing grease and fingerprints from film and prints, it does not really help with stains or any type of non-greasy grunge that may have built up. If the images are easily removed from their mounting, I would start by washing them. They can easily be soaked in water, they were washed for a long time once before, right?

    You may find this site useful.
     
  6. Ben Taylor

    Ben Taylor Member

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    Thanks everyone, for the the replies and suggestions.

    What ever I choose to do it will be slowly. I'll start by trying to obtain a high quality copy on film. This is not something I've done before, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm back asking more questions! I'm very sorry to say his negatives were lost or destroyed a long time ago.

    Thanks Whiteymorange for the link, some useful information there. I agree that washing the prints would be a great starting point, unfortunately I can't see how to remove them from the mount without risking further damage.

    I've found a Kodak book on the subject which will hopefully get me started.

    If I find any useful tips I'll report back!