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Oct 14, 2005

Preservation Copying

No matter how well any paper or photographic item is stored, eventually the item will degrade to the point where it is either prohibitively expensive to repair it, or where repair is no longer possible. When this point is reached, copying is the only practical way to preserve the material into the future. Although modern copying technology can preserve items otherwise destined to be lost, most copying technologies do not reproduce the original item with total accuracy. Small amounts of definition and clarity are lost each time an image is copied. This loss of clarity becomes more pronounced over several generations of copies, as you may have encountered when you've made a copy of a copy. Digital technology is the only current way to create an exact duplicate of the original; however, because digital technology is stored in electro-magnetic media, it is susceptible to very rapid decay. Despite its limitations, copying is the only practical way for the layman to preserve many items.

  • Paper items can be either photographed or copied using a photocopier. The image placed on paper by a photocopier is very stable, however, care should be taken to place the image on good-quality paper. Acid-free paper is a must. Paper marked as photocopier paper and loaded into most commercial coin operated photocopiers is usually of poor quality.
  • When photographic copies of documents or photographs are made, care should be taken to select a photographer experienced in copy work. Copy photography is as much an art as a science, and an experienced hand will obtain the best copy image.
  • Contemporary color photographs of significant importance should be copied within twenty-five years after they are taken in order to preserve their original color hues.
  • Material that has been glued in scrapbooks is very difficult to copy. Usually the only solution is to destroy the scrapbook or the scrapbook page in order to make good copies of the attached items.


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