Ever Wonder what a 130 year old Photo Looks Like?

The best thing about photo restoration is the amazing history you hold in your hands.
A gentleman came into Nerses Photo Studio recently with two photos, individual portraits of his great grandparents.  Not only were they intact, but they were still in the original frames.  An appraisal of the clothing and placed the images around 1885.
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The first image, pretty sturdy frame.
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The second image, intact.
After having them in a drawer for thirty years, he decided to do something with them.  That’s where we came in.
The first step is to disassemble to see what we have to work with.
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Older frames like this a a mix of incredibly sturdy and terrifyingly delicate. This one is in such good shape from being tucked away for so many years.
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It’s pretty impressive to remember that each one of these square nails was forged by a blacksmith.
It was a long process to get the photos taken apart without causing damage, but we got the job done.
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Each individual element of the framed image. Notice something different about the print? It’s on glass.
Among the many cool things about these photos is the lack of paper.  They were actually printed on to the glass.  This is a type of print called a Daguerreotype, named after its creator Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.
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How the image looks out of the frame.
Daguerreotype images are created by treating copper or glass with a light sensitive silver-halide.  The subject image would then be projected on to this surface with a lens and developed with mercury vapor.  The process would be finished with a fixer that would stop the chemical process and lock the image in place.  Copper was a more common surface than glass, but the latter isn’t unheard of.
Well okay, the above image is rough looking, but we can definitely make something of it.
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Well this is tricky, but we can make it work…
The other thing about photo restoration is that it’s full of surprises.  Daguerreotypes were always set behind glass in order to prevent degradation.  In this case, you had glass on top of glass.
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… Oh.

… Oh.
There’s a reason this is a two-part post.