[genphoto] Re: Ambrotype Cleanup
- The back of the photo glass has a dark brown stain. It looks as if that's
the way it was supposed to be. The image appears to be on the front of the
glass. The spots seem to be on the front side, although both are equally
- If I were you, I would take it to a photograph conservator at a state
historical society or university if one is near by to see what their
diagnosis is of the stains you mentioned. The brown on the back is the paint
used to make the image positive. Is it intact? If not, you might try
putting a truly black piece of paper behind the image to see if that improves
RE: the front of the glass. Is there a stain somewhere that is not on the
image part? IF so, you could try using distilled water on a soft cotton
cloth and see if that takes it off.
- Dvgagel@... wrote:
> If I were you, I would take it to a photograph conservator at a state------------------------->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<-----------------------
> historical society or university if one is near by to see what their
> diagnosis is of the stains you mentioned. .............
The above person (whomever they may be) is right. Unless you've had some
experience and know what you are doing, you're better off to have a
photorestoration expert do the job for you.
A mistake on a Daguerreotype, Ambrotype or Tintype is unually not reversable.
I've been in photorestoration for 12 years and the smartest thing I've learned
so far is when to stop.
- Here is some extra info on the Ambrotype:
The ambrotype image requires a dark backing in order to be seen as a
positive image. Some photographers used a sheet of dark card stock, but
most coated the back of the glass. Some early ambrotypists merely lacquered
the inside of the case. Others experimented with materials such as black
velvet. The most common method was coating the back of the plate with black
Often, it appears as if the ambrotype image is flaking off from the plate,
but in most instances it is only the backing used to make the image appear
positive that is deteriorating. This form of deterioration appears as a
kind of mottling. After nearly 150 years, the lacquer backing has a
tendency to crack and flake off.
Most ambrotype plates were coated with black Japan lacquer on the side
opposite the image. Exceptions are possible and some ambrotypists may have
coated the image side. While such images are rare, O. Henry Mace in his
Collector's Guide to Early Photographs (p. 67) warns that if you decide to
scrape away the old black varnish from an ambrotype plate, you should be
certain that the image is on the opposite side of the plate, and not under
The full article is on my web site.
BTW I noticed that a stray piece of HTML code was actually preventing my
site search from working. Of all things, it was asking for your email
address! Fixed now.
Steve Knoblock popular history
editor@... of photography
www.city-gallery.com and genealogy