Antique Print Restoration: removing text transfer
June 11, 2007 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Antique Print Restoration: I have 6 or 7 original c. 1860 Gould humming bird prints. These are large (14" x x21" +/-) hand-colored lithographs. In wonderful condition EXCEPT there is slight black "text transfer" visible on the print. This sometimes happens to antique prints when there was no tissue-guard to separate the print from the text on the opposite facing page.

Does it matter? In decent condition, these particular Gould prints are spendy. Perhaps $600-$2000 each.

I can get these professionally restored for about $200-300 each. But there is a big backlog of work and while the restoration work that the professionals want to do is a good idea in theory, it is beyond the scope of what I think is needed considering the underlying paper is in wonderful condition (not brittle at all and there is no foxing - staining - smudging - watermarks.

Before someone suggests to dunk it in a weak solution of bleach... yes, that probably would remove the black ink text transfer and leave the image of the print pretty much intact. I've experimented with that on some cheap prints and removed what looked like tea or coffee stains. The fly-in-the-ointment is that this paper is what is called age-toned. It has patina because it is about 150 years old. Bleaching it would remove any trace of that and leave it a stark white. Like stripping a fine piece of furniture, sanding it, and then refinishing it.

My question is if anyone knows of a way to remove the text without bleaching? I am sure that there is, but I can't find any information about it on the internet.

posted by toucano to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
(6 or 7) x ($600-$2000) = $3,600 to $14,000.

Please don't dunk them in bleach :). There are some things best left to professionals. (Also, why do you think you know what the restorers would (over)do? Maybe they would just lift the errant ink marks off with distilled water, charge you $100 a pop, and call it a day?)
posted by misterbrandt at 9:56 PM on June 11, 2007

Seconding please don't dunk them in bleach. A professional restorer really is your best bet, even if it does seem pricey up front. As the lithos are hand-coloured, almost anything available to you as a layperson is likely to affect the surface of the print in one way or another; a professional restorer is going to know which methods will affect the value least.

Given the value of the prints, whether you are ready to have them restored now or not, you're certainly going to want the prints stored properly to maintain their good condition - you'll need acid/lignin free and light proof flat storage. Any nearby art store should have or be able order for you storage that would work. You can also easily find archival storage materials available to purchase online.

How much the print transfer affects the value would depend on how heavy the transfer is I would might consider having them appraised as is to get an idea. A professional appraiser should be able to tell you how much the print transfer affects the sale value.

You can often get quite good recommendations for both restorers and appraisers by contacting a local museum and finding out who they use and/or recommend.
posted by faineant at 10:20 PM on June 11, 2007

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