Stuck on You...
July 26, 2008 12:53 PM   Subscribe

My grandfather's old photos are stuck in deteriorating "magnetic" albums. How can I save them?

I'm trying to rescue my grandfather's old photos, but they've been abominably stored in those "magnetic" photo albums. The more modern pictures (where there's plastic in the paper) come out with a little work, but the oldest cardboard- and paper-backed ones seem completely stuck in the nasty old glue. And of course these are the ones I'm most worried about.

Googling suggests "blasts" in a microwave to loosen the glue, putting in the freezer to freeze the glue, using a hairdryer, etc. Do any MeFites have experience or advice for doing any of these things? Other suggestions?
posted by nkknkk to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Before trying anything (because you never know what will fail miserably for you that worked for someone else), I would take pictures of the photos.

Yes, the quality won't be as good. But it will save them just in case something happens. And if you wanted to digitally try to restore any of them, you'd already have them in digital form.
posted by theichibun at 12:57 PM on July 26, 2008

I would recommend scanning them on a high quality flatbed scanner so you can have almost exact replicas. If you really want to save the originals, the best bet would be to take them to a restoration expert probably.
posted by stevechemist at 1:09 PM on July 26, 2008

Best answer: I would cut the pages out of the binding and scan them with a flatbed scanner before doing anything. You can scan at a high enough quality to replicate the originals. Use some image-editing software and save each photo as an individual file, and you can have any number of places make new prints. To me, the value would be in having new copies of the images.

Then, you may or may not need to remove them from the album. I would try a hair dryer and a plastic putty knife. Plus a lot of patience.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:11 PM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Scrapbookers are always coming up with new and improved methods for this problem. You should try their favorite way to get these pictures out of those horrid albums: Un-Du. It is a liquid product that comes with a tool that slides under the photo and lifts it out with no tearing and/or ripping. Most scrapbooking stores will carry this. Here's an article about using the product for just your purpose.

Scanning them while still in the album (or taking high resolution photos) might be a good idea until you get the hang of using Un-Du - or have confidence in the product. It does work!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 2:51 PM on July 26, 2008

Ditto on scanning or photographing them before you do anything else. Most important thing is not to damage them further.
posted by crazy finger at 2:56 PM on July 26, 2008

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