Removing tape from a vintage photograph?


Hello, I have a print from my parent's wedding in 1920. Unfortunately my mother repaired it with tape at the edges and its turning all sorts of colors. Can I remove it safely?


LockshinN's picture

Tape removal can be a straightforward or a challenging and expensive process, due to the type and fragility of the photographic print process and the extreme care and potential solvents that may be needed to remove the material. Trying to remove it yourself is not advised, as you could end up with a sticky residue that attracts obscuring dirt, sticks to facing pages if in an album, or worse, tear away the image material from the base paper.

A conservator will want to test the tape and identify what kind of photograph it is before giving you a final estimate, as tapes and photographs both can vary in composition - some are easier, some are harder to deal with. If the estimate seems out of your reach, I would consider making a high resolution scan (see our guidelines for digitization) and printing another copy with permanent pigment inks on permanent paper, or a reproduction print with photographic silver, to display while putting the original away to rest. Another option, if the tape is limited to the edges and not disfiguring persons or important features in the print, is reframing the print with an overmat to cover the taped edges.

To learn about how to work with a conservator and find one in your area, please visit the website of the professional organization the American Institute for Conservation, and click on Find a Conservator and How to Select a Conservator to find a professional conservator specializing in photographic materials in your geographic area. You will also find brochures on caring for photographs, about matting and framing and other useful guides about caring for your treasures.

zspnix's picture

@Nora Lockshin

Thank you so much

anna23's picture

Nora Lockshin,
thank you, exactly the information I was looking for!

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