Topics in Photographic Preservation 2005, Volume 11, Article 12 (pp. 95-96)

The Study of Two Humidification and Flattening Methods for Albumen Prints to Determine Their Impact on the Evolution of Cracks in the Albumen Layer

Christophe Vischi and Greg Hill

Presented at the 2005 Winter Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia


The aim of this research was to study two methods for humidification and flattening of positive prints on albumen paper and to evaluate the impact of each treatment on the surface of the albumen. The research was undertaken at Library and Archives Canada and supported by the Carnot Foundation (France). The albumen process was the primary photographic print process between 1855 and approximately 1890. Prints consist of a lightweight, high quality paper support coated with a thin layer of egg albumen containing the image silver. The albumen layer of historic prints is generally brittle and often covered with a network of fine cracks. Various studies have shown a correlation between the introduction of high humidity and an increase in the number and/or size of cracks, leading photograph conservators to limit their use of “wet” treatments as are normally employed for other photographic processes.

The study proceeded in five stages:

Christophe Vischi
Photograph Conservator
Private Practice, Ottawa

Greg Hill
Senior Conservator, Photographic Materials
Library and Archives, Ottawa

Papers presented in Topics in Photographic Preservation, Volume Eleven have not undergone a formal process of peer review.