Photos and sellotape – not a great combo!

I’m in the process of sorting out three photo albums simultaneously.

After my Dad passed away earlier this Spring we looked for photos of him in his younger days to add to a slideshow for the funeral day.  It was at that point that three photo albums came to light that I don’t remember ever having seen before and which I believe came from his parents’ house.

We found some great photos of Dad as a child and as a young man to scan and add to the slideshow, but subsequently I have felt compelled to take all the photos out of the albums.  Why?  Well they are the type that was so hi-tec back in the seventies – the slightly waxy pages and the film that you smooth back over the photos – but which have subsequently been discovered to be disastrous for the preservation of photos.  The chemicals in the PVC film can damage photos irreparably, so I decided it was best to order an acid free album and to transfer them over.

I suspect that it was my Nan who stuck the photos in.  But what is odd is that the photos are apparently put in randomly – photos from the 1930s all mixed up with those from the 1970s.  It was as if she had kept photos in a shoebox, was given the albums, and then just stuck them in as they came out of the box.  It’s very strange.

Sorting out a whole load of unlabelled photos into some sort of chronological order would be bad enough, but – horror of horrors  – for some reason best known to herself, my Nan put sellotape over a good number of the photos when sticking them in.  Arghhhh.  Why would you do that?!!

Where the sellotape has come off the photos it has left a sticky residue, so I’ve decided that where possible I’ll leave the sellotape on and just trim at the edges.  Where the photos are reluctant to come away from the pages I am using dental floss – gently sliding it under the photo and easing it away from the page.  That’s a tip I learnt when I started scrapbooking and it works a treat.

So gradually I am removing the photos, and temporarily putting them into envelopes for different decades according to my best guess.  It’s a fun, if time-consuming exercise, as I catch once more glimpses of my Grandad’s garden and images of cars, pets and furniture long-gone, but which bring back memories of weekly visits to my Wakefield grandparents after school back in the late sixties/early seventies and Christmas tea with the ubiquitous but distasteful celery and beetroot.

Faded photos are rejuvenating faded memories, but I hope that my efforts to preserve the photos now will ensure the memories live on.

(The Institute of Conservation has a very helpful factsheet on care of photos at )



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