Many black and white photographs are prone to silvering (a bluish reflective sheen seen in the shadow areas), yellowing and fading due to the effects of moisture, pollutants and residual processing chemistry. Colour images are prone to light and dark fading.
This blog will give a couple of examples of the types of photographic collections that we hold, discuss how knowledge of photographic process is key to understanding future care needs, and provide some examples of how this information is used.
Photographic collections at The National Archives
The National Archives’ collection includes approximately eight million photographs. The subjects are varied, and include Victorian and Edwardian photographs from the 1850s; of Eccles cakes, circus performers with boa constrictors, ‘the oldest lady in bed’, children acting out barber shop scenes and the Titanic.
Later collections include the more serious Operation Sandstone, a unique survey of the British coastline which began in 1947 to help NATO forces plan a re-invasion in case the country was taken over by communist forces. Continue reading »