At PASS-CO we will grade and encapsulate all forms of paper photography. Our material will ensure that your photographs will be properly encapsulated and preserved to the highest level of professional archival standards. We have developed a system of grading which we believe incorporates the currently accepted standards of grading by collectors, dealers and catalogers of photography. A number of processes were developed and utilized during the last century and a half, some which have retained their image quality more successfully than others. The major photographic processes and materials of the 19th century include:
Albumen Papers (1850s - 1920); Carbon prints (1860s - 1940); Collotypes (1850s - on); Cyanotypes (1840 - 1880); Gelatin Developing Out Papers (mid 1880s - on) - Generally display silver mirroring; Glossy Collodion Printing Out Papers (late 1880s - 1920s); Matte Collodion Printing Out Papers (1894 - 1920s); Letterpress Halftones (1880s - on); Photogravure (1870s - on); Platinotypes (1880 - 1930s); Salted Papers (1840 - mid 1860s); Woodburytypes (1866 - 1900).
Generally speaking, Albumen prints are almost always found mounted to a thick stock to provide support and prevent curling of the image. As the dominant form of commercial photography from 1860 - 1895, the majority of carte-de-visites (CDVs), cabinet photos and stereo cards encountered from this period are of this type. Deterioration, which is generally found to some degree, may manifest itself through fading, color changing to a yellow-brown appearance and/or a loss of highlight detail.
Depending on the type of process utilized, deterioration of sorts may occur to varying degrees on all photographs. The gelatin printing-out papers tend to display the photolytic silver image deterioration similar to that of albumen photographs but also exhibit a higher degree of sulfiding deterioration which may be caused by an overuse of the fixer. Salt prints often display photolytic silver deterioration with a loss of highlight detail and may exhibit a color shift to yellow-brown. A characteristic problem with Woodburytypes is the cracking of the pigmented gelatin binder layer, resulting in a loss of small pieces of the image.
Regardless of the type of process utilized in the image's manufacture, the typical flaws seen in each type of photograph will be measured as a portion of the overall grade. Some image deterioration is to be expected with all processes, some to a greater degree than others. Normal minor image deterioration will not adversely affect the overall grade assigned by PASS-CO to a photograph. Deterioration which negatively affects the overall aesthetics of the image (i.e. moderate to severe fading, yellowing or highlight loss) can contribute to the image being downgraded. Conversely, images with choice, crisp detail in an excellent state of preservation will be rewarded accordingly.
Poor (P) An extremely worn and damaged photograph. May have folds or bends, marked browning, brittleness, chipping, abrasions, foxing, stains, docketing, insect or vermin damage. Emulsion may be damaged, causing loss to image. Trimming may be present and large portions or fragments may be missing. Collected only due to great rarity or great scarcity of the image.
Good (G) A worn photograph. May have minor folds or bends, marked browning, brittleness, chipping, abrasions, foxing, stains, docketing andÂ insect or vermin damage. Emulsion may be damaged without loss to image. Trimming may be present, and portions of photographic surface or fragments may be missing. Collected only due to rarity or scarcity of the image.
Fine (F) A photograph that shows some wear. May have a minor bend or crease marks. Corners may have tiny bends. May have minor browning, chipping, abrasions, foxing, staining or docketing on recto or verso. Emulsion may have the miniscule surface losses. Trimming may be present to a minimal degree.
Very Fine (VF) A photograph that shows very minimal wear. May have insignificant or barely discernable crease or fold. Corners may have tiny bends. May have minor browning, abrasions, spot foxing, staining or docketing on recto or verso. Emulsion may have minimal surface losses.
Extremely Fine (EF) A photograph that shows no wear. Corners are complete and as issued. Emulsion may have minimal surface losses. Docketing on recto or verso is unobtrusive if present or is contemporary with the photograph's manufacture.
Original State (OS) A photograph in the condition of its original manufacture. May be accompanied by a mint or near mind holder as originally distributed by the photographer. Corners are complete and as issued. Emulsion may have no surface losses. Docketing on recto or verso is either non-existent or contemporary with photographs manufacture.
In some cases PASS-CO will adjust scores on the basis of certain conditions or flaws that may exist. Examples of such conditions may be noted as follows: light toning, surface lifting from mount, silvered, trimmed, Inscription, Restoration/repaired. A faded or photo-oxidized image may be in great condition physically, but it may be downgraded due to this flaw.