|Pictures torn? Look before you tape.|
Whether you are putting your photos in albums to preserve them, scrap booking, or scanning them into digital images - before you reach for that tape dispenser, did you know that all tape is not created equal?
Believe it, or not there are many different kinds of tapes available. Even some especially designed for documents and photos. You may have seen older photos that have been torn and taped back together, only to find that through the years the tape and photo becomes yellow and brittle, making a small problem even bigger. Basic everyday tape contains traces of acid within the adhesive that, in time, will cause a photo to yellow, damaging the image forever.
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right tape for a photo mending job. First, an "acid-free" tape is better than your average, run of the mill tape. Also, check to see that the tape is made with an acrylic adhesive. Next, check to see that the tape has passed PAT (Photographic Activity Test), developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is a test that determines whether or not a storage material will cause fading or staining in photographs. (Source: What Kind of Photo Album Should I Use?, National Archives) If you are thinking about a temporary fix, there are even tapes just for that! But no matter what the situation, it pays to check and use the right materials. Once the right tape has been found, you are ready to mend the photo. Keep these points in mind when doing the repair job:
- Always tape the back of a photograph - never apply any glue or tape to the emulsion.
- Use the least amount of tape you can possibly use to mend the tear (i.e. don’t use a 6 inch strip to cover a three inch tear).
- If possible, snip a small bits of tape from the roll and tack the tear together. Once the photograph is tacked together, it can then have a new negative made from it. This will ensure that it will last longer than the tape that is holding it together. (Source: Protect your family photographs, Florida Department of State, Division of Library Information Services)
Now that the repair has been made, the photo can be saved and archived for many more generations of enjoyment. And, there will be no need to worry about further damaging the photo.