Military Images

Why Do Photographs Fade?

Concern about the yellowing and fading of albumen prints is almost as old albumen paper itself. Invented in 1850, it made the mass production of photographs possible—but the deterioration of the prints prompted the esteemed Photographic Society of London to open an investigation in 1855. This is a brief history of the problems and what today’s collectors can do to protect their treasures.

Story by Ronald S. Coddington

This story is part of our Spring 2021 issue. Check out the full contents and learn how to purchase a copy or subscribe in our finding aid.

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