- The restoration of daguerreoptypes that have faded is best done by copying.
This is difficult since you are in fact photographing a mirror. It is done
with a view camera, where the front standard can rise, so the camera can
look at the dag without reflecting itself. You build a black tent around
the lens and dag, and light from the sides, and shoot with cross-polarized
light. The resulting 4x5 transparency is scanned and the restoration done
For many years, recommendations were published about a wet treatment for
cleaning daguerreotypes using thiourea, commonly marketed as Tarn-X and
similar products. This has have been found to be very harmful to the image
over time and is no longer recommended.
A book was published by Smithsonian conservators that is the best source of
information about dag conservation, it is called "The Daguerreotype:
Nineteenth Century Technology and Modern Science" by M. Susan Barger and
William B. White, perhaps your local library has or can get you this book.
In short, make no attempt to open the dag and do anything without some study
and practice. Do not use a tissue, brush, or anything to clean the surface
because it will scratch the image permanently. Do not use compressed air to
blow the dust off it, the air will blow the image right off it. A
daguerreotype is extremely fragile.
I can recommend a professional photo conservator if you need, he is the
curator of photography at the art museum here. there is an email group of
professional photo conservation technicians that you can check out, it is
As to the print blocks, they are very sturdy and you don't have to worry
about the ink damaging them. Take them to an old-time printer who uses
letterpress. They can print them. You scan the print they make. Since
they are half-tone, there will be a moire pattern in your scan. Don't use
the "descreen" option in the scanner driver if you have Photoshop. Scan it
straight and then get rid of the moire by opening the image in PS and using
Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. You can see exactly how much to use for your
particular image. Usually it is about 1.6 to 2.
- Yes, I agree - you would be surprised at how much can be recovered from a
seemingly useless dguerrotype using a good scanner and photoshop.
>It is possible to restore these images using Adobe Photoshop. The degree
>of success would depend on how badly the original was degraded.
>Best regards (again)
>Dol Sol wrote:
>>Is there any hope for daguerrotypes that are either faded or somehow turned
>>black? Does certain equipment bring out hidden images, or can I try to
>>clean them? Yes, I realize I'm probably dreaming.
- If you are going to scan the dag and have photoshop full version (rather
than elements) you would do well to scan at 16 bit, since the contrast range
is so short, you will avoid banding if your scanner driver can deliver 16
bit to PS and then set the levels. To set levels in photoshop (after vers
6) hold down the two keys to the left of the space bar while you move the
cursor to the high and low points. The screen will be blank until you clip
and then the screen will show only the clipping. This is the best way I
know to scan a short-scale image without clipping and banding.
> Yes, I agree - you would be surprised at how much can be recovered from a
> seemingly useless dguerrotype using a good scanner and photoshop.
> Paul R.
>> It is possible to restore these images using Adobe Photoshop. The degree
>> of success would depend on how badly the original was degraded.
>> Best regards (again)
>> John J.
>> Dol Sol wrote:
>>> Is there any hope for daguerrotypes that are either faded or somehow turned
>>> black? Does certain equipment bring out hidden images, or can I try to
>>> clean them? Yes, I realize I'm probably dreaming.