Cleaning of daguerreotypes with an excimer laser

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Turovets, I.; Maggen, Michael; Lewis, A.;


Studies in conservation, Volume 43, Number 2, p.89-100 (1998)


cleaning, daguerreotypes, lasers


The cleaning of daguerreotypes must effect the removal of tarnish layers and debris without altering the optical properties of the daguerreotype. This means that 1) the polished silver layer substrate must not be etched or pitted, and 2) the image particles must not be altered or damaged. Electrocleaning is the only known method of cleaning gilded daguerreotypes; however, it is not suitable for the treatment of ungilded and colored daguerreotypes. This article describes a new laser method for cleaning daguerreotypes. A model is developed for the cleaning process, and testing procedures are discussed. This method permits 1) the cleaning of gilded and ungilded plates, 2) local treatment, and 3) removal of tarnish without immersion in solvents and chemicals.