How to unroll and flatten a rolled 12x20 FB contact print from the 1940s?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by jp80874, May 10, 2009.

  1. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    On Mother’s Day my 89 year old mother in law showed me rolled 12x20 fiber contact print made in the 1940s. The roll is about 2 ½” in diameter. She says the image is a banquet in a hotel in Chicago. She, her late husband, her parents and maybe 100 other people were at a medical convention dinner. Both men were doctors. She would like the picture unrolled and flattened. It looks like someone has tried this before. There are at least three 12” cracks in the print.

    How should I do this without further damaging the print or my status in the family? My thought was to soak the print in 70+ degree water and when flexible unroll the roll and let it dry between two print screens as I would a fresh print. Any thoughts from someone more experienced than I?

    Thanks,

    John Powers
     
  2. NormanV

    NormanV Member

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    that would probably work but if the print has been retouched you would have problems.
     
  3. Captain_joe6

    Captain_joe6 Member

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    be careful of how warm you get it if you do soak it, because you could strip the emulsion from the paper. might just float away. another option *might* be steam, if you were able to steam the thing somehow and gently open it up. tough call, though, as steam is a nice hot thing as well.
     
  4. jeffzeitlin

    jeffzeitlin Subscriber

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    I suggest go into your bath room and steam it up. Bring the print into the room not the shower and see if it loosens up. Be careful not to have the emulsion float away.
     
  5. Larry.Manuel

    Larry.Manuel Member

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    I suggest contacting an art conservationist. Many universities have people who do this, and most would be delighted to advise you, rather than see the work [possibly] destroyed.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi john

    i have the same problem,
    but my 12x20 rolled contact/banquet camera prints
    are of my grandfather commanding
    his troops during ww2 ..

    i called a friend who works at a museum and
    what she said was to make a humidity chamber ...
    kind of like a trash can filled with water and somehow rig
    the photo to hang in it, but not in the water, just in the airspace under
    the cover ...
    it might take a while for the moisture to enter the print.

    i never did it ... so i can't give you a fairy tale ending ...

    john
     
  7. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Some wonderful ideas here. Thank you all. Please send more if you have them.

    Larry, the head of the U Akron Photography Deptment, where I have been taking courses in my retirement, mentioned that she has been taking photo conservationist courses. I have an email out to her to obtain a contact to pursue your suggestion.


    Thanks,

    John