-Photographs will fade in direct sunlight.

-Never laminate photographs. (This cannot be reversed).

-Do not put sticky tape on photographs.

-Never attempt to clean old photos by wiping with water. This will soften the emulsion and tear it.

-Use silica packets in boxes of photos to protect from moisture.

-Don’t put photos face to face as they may stick together.

-Generally, with photographs, the colder the storage, the longer the life.

-N.B. Before attempting any “repairs” on an original photograph consider potential damage. If in doubt, consult a conservator.


Family history research, with an emphasis on photography.

The Ambrotype

For the purpose of family history research, you need to understand the main developments and processes in photography.

In the early years of photography, the main advances occurred in the period between 1840-1880. The Daguerreotype, Ambrotype and Tintype are commonly encountered.  All three processes produced one unique photograph.

Inverted by  Louis Daguerre, Daguerreotypes were printed on a polished copper base and were a direct positive.

They were mostly portraits and usually came in a “Union case” with embossed gold leaf around the edges.

Although they can be difficult to tell from Ambrotypes, they have a “mirror appearance and are usually darker and often in poorer condition.

Unlike the Daguerreotype, which was on a metal base, the Ambrotype was an underexposed glass negative, backed with black material, giving a positive image when viewed.


Ambrotypes used the “Collodion”, or wet plate process, which also differed from the daguerreotype as it produced a negative image on a glass plate.

Photo restoration Melbourne
A “Tintype” or “Ferrotype”.

Tintypes were a natural development from the Daguerreotype.

They were a positive image on a metal support, the main difference being the collodion emulsion.

Tintypes were cheaper than Ambrotypes and smaller, (about the size of a business card).

They survive much better than Ambrotypes as they are less fragile.

Relatively quick and easy to make, tintypes were popular with street and itinerant photographers.

“Gem” tintypes were smaller and are often found in jewellery such as lockets.

To be continued.






See our blog page for other interesting articles on photo preservation.





Historical Images

The State Library of Victoria has a large collection of historical images that can be downloaded from its website,

“Time out Melbourne” has a number of interesting vintage photographs of Melbourne. 

These are important as we are rapidly losing much of our architectural heritage to modern development.

Also, they provide an important reference for how previous generations lived.

Swanston st. Looking north. Mid 1930’s

To discuss your photo restoration project, and for a free quote
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