The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988 Page: 402
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
James M. Reilly is a scientist and the director of the recently created
Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology, but
he has written this book for the general public. In clear, concise lan-
guage he traces the development of different nineteenth-century photo-
graphic papers, light-sensitive metal compounds, and the various bind-
ers developed to hold these compounds to paper supports. No other
text gives such a thorough yet accessible account of nineteenth-century
photographic processes. And no other book aimed at the nonspecialist
includes such a clear explanation of the myriad conservation problems
that pervade every collection of nineteenth-century photographs.
Every type of photographic print presents its own special conserva-
tion problems. Thus, before Reilly can educate his readers as to why
high relative humidity is especially harmful to albumen prints, or why
prints on collodion printing-out paper can withstand more light than
carbon prints, he must first lead them through a course in identifying
the bewildering variety of nineteenth-century photographic materials
and processes. This is the most valuable part of his book. With well-
drawn illustrations, superb microphotographs, and excellent color re-
productions of sample photographs, Reilly has created an easy-to-
follow system for identifying nineteenth-century prints. This system is
summarized in a removable flowchart that should be hung in every ar-
chive where prints are catalogued. (Extra copies of this flowchart may
be ordered for $5.00 plus shipping from Eastman Kodak Company,
Department L-5, 175 Humboldt Street, Rochester, NY 14610-1099.)
Photographic conservation is a relatively young field, and most
trained conservators-Reilly included-urge extreme caution in the
chemical treatment of deteriorating prints. Reilly argues that basic care
and storage are ultimately more significant than conservation treat-
ment in the preservation of our photographic heritage. His book offers
sound advice for this basic caretaking work, and even those already fa-
miliar with the need for controlled climate storage, archival enclosures
and matting materials, and low-level display lighting will learn from his
discussion of the chemistry of photographic deterioration.
This book should be required reading for all collectors and students
of photography and should become a standard reference text for every
photographic curator, cataloguer, and archivist. I can think of many
times when I wish I'd had it by my side.
Amon Carter Museum
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988, periodical, 1987/1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/m1/458/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.