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Jun 02, 2015
Irreplaceable Historic Images Entrusted to our Care.
Jenny O’Neil of the Westport Historical Society contacted Tri-Color Imaging about making scans and prints for their Handy House project. The Handy House was built in about 1713 and showcases three architectural styles through additions during its 300 year life. The Westport Historical Society’s mission is:
“… to engage the public in the exploration of the town’s rich history and culture, to inspire a spirit of discovery through educational programs and encourage active participation in the preservation and interpretation of our past.”
Integral to that mission is the researching, preservation and presentation of historical artifacts.
We received the carefully packaged tintypes and took great care in recording them in their current state. They were scanned using a professional Creo scanner at high resolution to capture the most information. The tintypes were beautifully preserved in their original cases, and we did not remove them. The images were scanned through the glass of the cases, and minimal cleanup of the resulting digital images was performed. The goal was to show the image, but also to show its age and natural patina.
In the case of Almy Gibbs Brown’s portrait above, the glass in the case had a crack and some small chips. The damage could easily have been removed, but it was decided that for the integrity of the piece, the crack should stay. The image was lightened and some contrast added to make it more readable. You can see that there is some color in her cheeks, it was not common for tintypes to be hand colored, but many were. It was felt that hand coloring made the photos more like paintings of the day, and brought them closer to being “fine art.”
This portrait of Dr. James Handy was in pretty rough condition, in the upper left of the portrait you can see where an imperfection, a bubble in the glass, was digitally removed during the cleanup process. This was determined to be too distracting at the final print size.
Dr. Handy’s wife Hope shows us a great example of what can be done, if requested. The scan reveals the degradation of the original image, also visible are “double spots” these are imperfections in the image which are mirrored by the surface of the glass. We performed extensive cleanup and restoration on this image so Mrs. Handy could actually be seen, while keeping some of the defects.
Eliphal Almy Handy’s portrait above again shows the reflection of imperfections and hand coloring of the image.
No cleanup was done to the originals, they were documented “as-is” and then the resulting files were digitally manipulated. Selections were created by hand to separate the image from the ornate frames, so that corrections to the image wouldn’t affect the frame. No digital cleanup was done to the ornate gilded frames. The files were color corrected to match the tones of the originals and then the portraits themselves were made neutral and then digitally hand colored as needed.
We pride ourselves on the care we take with the priceless originals entrusted to us. From 400 year old original oil paintings, crumbling 200 year old maps, to 150 year old tintypes. Everything we do is concerned with protecting the original piece, while creating new prints that can be displayed for the public.
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Our fine art printing process uses pigment based inks. Pigment printing processes have been utilized since the middle of the 19th century. The image stability of pigment printing is superior to that of any other method of printing. Pigment inks excel in permanence. A dye is molecularly soluble in its vehicle, but pigment is not. Pigment particles tend to be large enough to embed into the receiving substrate making them water-resistant. The particle nature of pigment inks ensures their archival superiority. A particle of pigment is less susceptible to destructive environmental elements than a dye molecule.
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