Oxford College Emory University


Section of 1906 Senior Class Decorated  Mat
Conservation Treatment Summary

General Description of Physical Condition

The collection contains 544 albumen prints from 1860 - 1893, 705 silver gelatin prints from 1892 - 1910 and 21 prints from 1911 whose process is undetermined. The original photographs can be divided into three formats:

  • Individual (mostly albumen) images mounted on thick backing cards taped or glued to the back of multiple window mat boards.

Front of 1873 multiple window mat.
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Back of 1873 multiple window mat.
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  • Collages (mostly silver gelatin prints) in which the individual images are adhered directly onto the front of often elaborately decorated mat board. (This definition of a collage complies with the Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online definition.)
1904 collage. Notice insect damage in lower left corner. Click on thumbnail for larger image. 1906 collage on decorated mat. Click on thumbnail for larger image.
  • Single images of groups of people adhered to the front of the mat board.
1860 single image. Click on thumbnail for larger image.

Due to age and previous storage conditions, many of the original images suffer significant damage from exposure to insects, moisture, light, mishandling, as well as the natural decomposition of photographic processing materials. Many images have considerable silver mirroring. Others are faded, some severely, and a very few are yellowed probably due to problems with the chemicals at the time they were produced.

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Unframing, Cleaning and Dismounting: Individual Images in Multiple Window Mats

  • 23 multiple window mats and backings were removed from their frames. If not already labeled, the class year was written on the top back of the frame in pencil.
  • 597 mounted photographs were removed from the back of the acidic, often very dirty and heavily damaged mattings. Backings range from thin wood, to corrugated acidic chip board, to none at all.
  • A variety of attachment methods were use to adhered the mounted photograph card to the mat board including: paper tape, linen tape, self-adhesive stickers (old library bookplates), newsprint clippings/bright pink craft paper. Adhesives used included masking tape, strapping tape, black plastic electrical tape, hide glue, and orange-tinted hide glue.
  • Hide glues and other water-soluble adhesives were removed by the application of water through the back of the paper carrier (usually a damp blotter and Reemay sandwich). Once the carrier was removed, the adhesive residue was removed by light scraping and the reapplication of water when necessary. They were dried between clean blotters with a light weight on top.
  • Damage from previous framing attempts is evident in a number of the backing cards . Extremely dry flaking hide adhesive often pulled away layers/sections of the back the mounting card. The adhesive residue was left in place in these cases to avoid further damage.
  • Masking tape residue was removed with ethanol.
  • Many of the mounting cards had handwritten notes on the back as well as printed information about the photographer. All inks were tested for water-fastness before any moisture was applied and all proved to be stable.
  • Clippings adhered to back of photos were retained only if they referred to the photograph or class.
  • Many albumen prints have gilding on the edge and on the back of the support card. Deteriorating and flaking bronze gilt powders may account for small white spots on images.
  • None of the images needed mending.

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Unframing, Cleaning and Dismounting: Collage and Single Images

  • In consultation with appropriate staff, the decision was made not to remove the pasted down individual images from the collage and single image formats.
  • 15 collages and 7 single images were removed from their frames and if not already labeled, the class year was written on the top back in pencil.
  • The images were first brushed lightly with a soft clean hake brush. The front and back of the mat boards were then vacuumed (avoiding the image areas) with a Nilfisk vacuum and a soft bristle attachment.
  • Images peeling off the mat board were re-adhered with dry wheat starch paste under weight.

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  • Individual images from multiple window mats are housed in envelopes (unbuffered for albumen, buffered for silver gelatin) with the name and image number written in pencil in the front upper right corner.
  • Oversize images from the window mats are housed in Melinex L-sleeves in Hollinger storage boxes.

  • Several collages with elaborately decorated mats have been repaired, reframed and rehung. The remaining oversize collages and single images are stored in flat file drawers.
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Oxford College Emory University
For more information contact the Hoke O'Kelley Memorial Library

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