Photograph stuck to glass?


A neighbor has an old photo stuck to glass and was wondering what she might do to remove the glass from the photo.  I know you did a blog post about removing photos from old sticky albums. Do you have any advice regarding photos and glass? I poked around on to see if there was any info regarding this topic.  One website talked about heating the glass, microwaving the glass/photo unit, or soaking the whole thing.  I can't believe that is right after seeing what you do to keep things dry.  Anyway, I thought I would just pass this along to you. For you interest, the website I was looking at is:


Peter Finkel


LockshinN's picture

Wow - well, we certainly would not recommend putting any historical object you care about into the microwave.

While many "old" photographic prints were produced and washed in water with other developing chemicals, we don’t advocate the untrained person doing so and suggest seeking out a photograph conservator to determine the type of print and the degree of damage.

Without examining the photograph, there’s just too much variation in the photograph technology types to safely assume that water, purified or not, would be safe. For many types of old photographs, water can be disastrous; for instance, it could induce severe cracking in the photograph emulsion, or it could soften or dissolve the gelatin. Both the paper and the photograph surface can be easily damaged during wet handling.

If you cannot find or afford conservation treatment, and do want to try on your own, be sure to scan or photograph the photo through the glass so that you have a high resolution copy before starting any intervention. A camera may be better because you can focus through the thickness of the glass. Virtual restoration resulting in a new digital image from which an archival silver or archival pigment print may be printed is also possible and may be worthwhile.

We tried a Google search for "photograph stuck glass" and found a colleague's recommendation for a careful trial way down on the return search page of hits. Note that he also suggests copying the image first.

To prevent future occurences, make sure valued photographs are placed in frames with an archival quality photo-safe mat. This adds necessary space between the glass and the object, and a buffer for humidity, which caused it to stick to the glass in the first place. (See also about the Photograph Activity Test)

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