How do I safely mount albumen photos on paper?
Q. Dear Donia,
I have a large collection of 19th century albumen photographs of India which I want to paste on paper. These photographs are actually loose and are unpasted. How do I paste the photos onto the paper, and what type of paper should I use? Thank you, Abhishek
A. Dear Abhishek,
It sounds like you have an interesting project on your hands. Mounting albumen prints is not as easy as it may at first appear. At the bare minimum, you will want to use a starch paste (wheat or rice would be preferred with wheat being the first choice) to adhere the photographs to their new paper mount. Secondly, the paper you are mounting the photographs to should be acid-free and lignin-free and ideally have passed the Photographic Activity Test. It should be heavy enough (at minimum 250gsm but preferably more like 500gsm or higher) to prevent the photograph from curling over time on its mount.
I could take considerable time and space describing the approach to safely mounting these loose prints but I will instead give you the link to Chapter 10 from The Albumen and Salted Paper Book: The History and Practice of Photographic Printing 1840-1895 by James Reilly. This is an excellent book that will explain in finishing, mounting, and storage of prints in detail for you. I hope it helps you with your project.