Cleaning vintage negatives

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by bill_morse|1, Jun 27, 1998.

  1. I have about 1500 negatives that my Grandfather took in China between 1913 and 1952 (he was a missionary). Many of the negs are dirty and scratched, some are stained from the negative books they were stored in. I want to clean and print them, but am concerned about the stability of the negs (emulsion separating, etc.) I have scanned most of the best negs, and am now ready to begin printing. Any ideas about how I should go about cleaning/preserving the negs?
    Also, I am looking for funding for a possible exhibit/book. Any ideas about sources?
  2. Bill, I'd go for stabilising the negs to prevent further deterioration
    rather than attempting to clean them. I have some negs
    belonging to my grandparents, oddly enough shot in China as
    well, and they're unevenly processed with some fixer staining
    evident, grubby and brittle [rather as one would expect after
    surviving a world war and a communist revolution.] I have re-filed
    them in archival-quality sleeves [Printfile aor any other archival
    brand] and stored them in a dust-free dark place with silica gel to
    absorb excess humidity. You've scanned the negs, so
    retouching the images digitally will give you the best results. You
    can always make copy negs from the retouched files using a film
    recorder if you want conventional B/W prints. Conservators
    spend a lot of time undoing other people's attempts to fix things
    up, so I 'd suggest intervening as little as possible.

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