Restoring a Document with Faded Writing

Dear Donia,

How do I restore documents with faded writing?

faded ink

Q. Dear Donia,

My husband has two documents that are land grants signed by President Andrew Jackson. Although we can still make out his name, that and some of the writing on the documents is fading. Where can we take the documents to have the faded writing restored? I would not want to attempt doing it myself—I lost President Andrew Jackson's signature, I would be sick. Thank you, Lorraine

A. Dear Lorraine,

What a wonderful document and an excellent question. It is not a good idea to try to restore signatures or documents by inking over them again. You lose the historic integrity and they never come out looking right. The best thing to do is to get the document digitized and digitally enhance the lost writing. Most likely, the ink used in the document was iron gall-based which fluoresces a deep velvet black under UV light so be sure to find a digital photographer who has this capability. I have no doubt there is someone in the DFW area that can do this for you. A good starting point might be contacting the folks at the University of North Texas' Special Collections in the library. They would know the photographers in the area that would be able to help. Good luck!