Historic Photographs

Photography has been a great invention around first half of nineteenth century. It created possibilities of experimentation for the creative minds interested in making real images on paper. Following is a picture of a badly restored and mounted photograph created by one of the older techniques. We tried to analyze the technique by which it might have been created. For confirmed identification of the photographic technique we require some sophisticated analytical instruments, but i tried to do some very basic analysis without costlier techniques.


Three striking observations are 1) the way tear has been mended, 2) the quality of the backing/mount-board, and 3) the label…

The microscopic view pointed towards either salt print or silver albumin print.

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Since we had to remove the backing and its a known fact that silver albumin prints are characteristically very thin, the task was difficult, with added delicacy because of the big tear.
There were more pictures that seemed to be silver albumin prints and with inappropriate recent mounting board.

When i started the daunting task of removing these boards, i discovered that the boards were not alone, these pictures had their mount board changed more than once as there were huge portions of the earlier mount boards still stuck to the photographs.


Author: namitajaspal
Namita Jaspal, with inherited skills of art and aesthetics and passion for science, opted to pursue post- graduation in ‘Conservation of Cultural Property’ after her graduation in Science from Delhi University in 1992. Four year intense training at National Museum Institute provided the right foundation to start a career in Conservation. She is currently practicing conservation consultancy for Heritage property including monuments and collections. She has been doing independent research in conservation techniques and procedures in Indian context. She is currently working on the conservation of wall-paintings of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden temple at Amritsar. The project is nearing completion and getting a lot of appreciation for the organized and ethical treatment it is providing. It is for the first time in the history of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden Temple) that wall painting conservation and preservation is being done in a scientific manner, keeping the codes of Ethics into consideration while decision making. Another project just completed is of the Conservation of Krishna Temple at Kishankot, Gurdaspur, Punjab. In her private Conservation Laboratory, she is not only providing onservation services, but also mentoring young aspiring conservators and archaeologists by the way of training and paid internships. She has been a guest lecturer at DIHRM (Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management). With all the updated knowledge database and innovative practical approaches relevant to the Indian conditions, she could successfully do curative and preservative treatment of very old textiles like a nine feet long flag from nineteenth century that is regarded as priceless memorabilia of second Dogra regiment at Chandi Mandir, and four hundred years old (seventeenth century) Chola Sahib Ji of Sixth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Hargobind Sahib Ji. Apart from this she has done conservation of Photograph collections, archival records, numerous paintings, manuscripts and other cultural objects. She is also involved in preparation of up-gradation proposals for museums and such organizations. Her expertise includes Conservation and preservation technologies and procedures for conservation of varied material like wall paintings, paper, photographs, textile, ceramics, stone, metal and archaeological objects.

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