OPTICAL BRIGHTENING AGENTS IN PHOTOGRAPHIC PAPER
Paul Messier, Valerie Baas, Diane Tafilowski, & Lauren Varga
ABSTRACT—A reference collection of mostly 20th-century photographic paper was surveyed for the presence of optical brightening agents. Only fiber-based, gelatin silver paper was assessed. In all, 1,804 samples were examined, dating from 1896 to 2004 and representing 40 different manufacturers. No optical brightening agents were found in samples dating from 1896 to 1949. The first occurrence of optical brightening agent was found in samples dating between 1950 and 1954. Between 1955 and 1964, the frequency of occurrence for optical brightening agents increased rapidly. Toward the latter part of this date range the occurrence of optical brighteners rose, with 70% of all samples showing brighteners. Between 1965 and 1979, occurrence of optical brightening agents declined to a low of 39% of all samples. A marked increase in occurrence was observed after 1980, when 81% of samples exhibited optical brightening agents. These results indicate that a significant proportion, and for some time periods a significant majority, of black-and-white, paper-based photographs made after the early 1950s contain optical brightening agents. This finding has implications for the treatment and display of photographs, as the presence of optical brightening agents is not routinely documented and the effects of storage environment, display, and treatment are poorly understood.
2. MATERIALS AND METHODS
4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
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