Using a Solvent to Remove Adhesive Tape from an Old Newspaper

Dear Donia,
What solvent should I use to remove tape from an old newspaper?

Scotch tape on newspaper

Q. Dear Donia,

Your suggestions on removing Scotch tape were a good first go. I have a unique newspaper photo that is 80 years old and laminated in tape on both sides. The adhesive has made the paper translucent so you can't photographically separate the front and back image, even with a black paper backup. I am willing to soak this in a solvent which will allow me to lift, press, iron, wash, and iron just as I would remove oil from paper. I need to know a solvent which will soften the adhesive but leave the print ink alone. I could try a number of options on the edges, but I suspect someone in paper conservation has already figured it out. Thanks for any advice you can provide. Thanks, Karl

A. Dear Karl,

It is almost impossible for me to tell you what solvent you would need to use to remove the tape. If the paper has gone translucent from the tape, the adhesive has cross-linked. This will make it difficult to remove with a single solvent. When conservators remove tape, there is a lot of experience, training, testing, and experimentation involved under very safe and controlled environments. I would not recommend trying to remove the tape yourself.

Are you sure that this is a unique newspaper photo? If so, it is probably best to contact a professional conservator as this is not something that is easily done by the amateur. You should be able to find someone at the Arizona State Museum or they can refer you to someone.