The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 4
Jul 1985


PMG Winter Meeting

On February 1 and 2, the Photographic Materials Group of the AIC met in Philadelphia for their winter meeting. Several of the 18 papers presented there were given again at the annual meeting of the American Institute for Conservation in May. A 38-page compilation of "Lecture Abstracts" for the winter meeting exists, and the tape cassettes of the May meeting are available from Cassette Recording Company, P0 Box 20453, Dayton, OH 45420 (513/293-2609) for $24 plus postage. A report will appear in CAN.

Although many of the papers in the Lecture Abstracts were interesting or important, five seemed particularly newsworthy. The first, by Betty Fiske, was one of six on the topic of photograph albums: "Survey of Curators' Points of View on Disassembly of Photograph Albums." Thirteen curators from four types of collections (art museums, photographic collections, historical societies and public libraries) were queried about their reasons for considering disassembly, the conditions under which they would approve it, and what features make an album valuable for their collection. Responses are summarized by type of collection. (All the reasons, conditions and features are listed, as well as about 15 types of deterioration.) All curators preferred keeping albums together if at all possible.

Doug Munson's "Negative Duplication: Treating the Past with the Future in Mind" consisted of three short discussions on 1) why Chicago Albumen Works urges the two-step, positive-negative duplicating system; 2) the optimal characteristic curve for a two-step duplicating film, and 3) deteriorating diacetate base safety film and what to do about it.

"Discussion and Demonstration: Daguerreotype Cleaning" was by three scientists (H. Susan Barger, Ajay Giri, and William B. White) and one conservator, who helped develop and field tested the method described (Thomas M. Edmondson). Susan Barger made the scientific presentation, describing the method of electrocleaning, which appears to be effective and nondestructive and which is better than the recently-developed methods of plasma reduction and reactive sputtering.

Thomas O. Taylor spoke on "Identification and Use of Plastic Material for Photographic Storage." This was a didactic presentation, based on his 36 years' experience with DuPont. After reviewing all the factors to consider in choosing a film, he listed the best, good and worst films for this purpose. Best: Uncoated, biaxially oriented, "polished" or very clear polyethylene teraphthalate (polyester). Coed: triacetate, archival polypropylene, archival polystyrene and polyethylene without additives. Worst: Cellophane, PVC, polyvinylidene chloride (Saran) and rubber hydrochloride. Tests for identification were demonstrated. They are recorded in a $4.00 pamphlet.

"Intensification and the Principles of Conservation," by Ian and Angela Moor, was the strongest of three papers that unequivocally opposed the enhancement of photographic images, because such enhancement violates conservation principles in four ways: 1) All chemical treatments induce/introduce further contaminants. 2) Intensification alters all essential print characteristics. 3) Intensification is not reversible. 4) Intensification, by introducing irremovable chemical complexes, will increase the instability of an already unstable material.

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