It is rare that we are lucky enough to have both the original negative and a period print of the same image, but today we get to reunite such a pair. Here's a detail from Monday's image, as scanned from the original glass negative and a period sepia contact print. You can see that the negative provides considerably sharper detail.
This negative and print parted ways 106 years ago, moving from owner to owner by different paths before they both landed at the History Museum. You can see some evidence of their journeys as they have picked up some scratches and marks along the way.
Frankly, I'm surprised when a glass negative survives at all. The glass is breakable, the emulsion scratches easily, flakes off with age, and picks up finger prints at the slightest touch, and of course fades if exposed to light. But it's a real thrill to make a fresh print or scan from a negative after 100 years.
If you're lucky enough to have the negatives for your family photos, save them. The negatives and the prints will age in different ways over the years, but if the negative survives it is much more likely to show you the fine detail of your image.
Wonderful advice Arthur - and in this day and age of digital it is even more important to understand how to adequately save our precious images.
Connie on 14th September 2011 @ 8:45am
What is that small bird-house looking object near his leg? Is it a shoe scraper?
Julie Semple on 14th February 2016 @ 5:52pm