1070-4272/05/7808-1376 C 2005 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.
Russian Journal of Applied Chemistry, Vol. 78, No. 8, 2005, pp. 1376!1378. Translated from Zhurnal Prikladnoi Khimii, Vol. 78, No. 8, 2005,
Original Russian Text Copyright + 2005 by Gaikalova, D’yakonov.
Use of Polymeric Coatings for Conservation of Archival
and Historically Valuable Documentary Photographs
E. S. Gaikalova and A. N. D’yakonov
St. Petersburg State University of Cinematography and Television, St. Petersburg, Russia
Received December 9, 2004; in final form, June 2005
Abstract-The possibility of conservation of archival and historically valuable documentary photographs
with polymeric coatings was substantiated. Coatings obtained from aqueous dispersions of polymers were
considered. A dependence of the shelf life of the material on the coating thickness was established.
Conservation of documentary photographs is an im-
portant task of state archives. The main goal of a set
of procedures for preservation of documents in storage
is to slow down the process of aging and protect doc-
uments from the action of detrimental factors.
Of particular importance in preservation of the
whole set of properties of a photographic system are
a number of factors associated with the storage con-
ditions and influence of atmospheric gases. In recent
years, work has been conducted on development of
digital technologies, which enabled restoration of
many documents via their digitalization. This made
it possible to significantly accelerate the restoration
process, to lower its cost, and to solve the problem
of transportation and storage of replicas. However,
in the opinion of experts in restoration, digital tech-
nologies actually hinder true restoration of original
documents, many of which are of historical and artis-
tic value .
Chemical methods for restoration of documentary
photographs may cause loss of image or impair the
quality of the original image. For example, the meth-
od of autoradiography inevitably leads to a complete
loss of the original . Therefore, a copy is made be-
fore chemical treatment of a document, which makes
it possible to retain the image, but not the document
itself, which frequently is more valuable than the
The most important factor that affects the preserva-
tion of a photographic material is electromagnetic
radiation in the ultraviolet and visible spectral ranges.
Among other factors affecting the stability of photo-
graphs are temperature, humidity, and atmospheric
contaminants. The presence of moisture catalyzes
all undesirable chemical and biological processes.
A relative humidity of more than 60% leads to fungal
However, it was noticed as far back as 1888 
that the action of light is rarely the reason, by itself,
for photochemical changes in materials of artistic and
historical value. In most cases, decoloration occurs
with active involvement of atmospheric oxygen and
water vapor, which accelerate the process.
Analysis of the literature shows that the problem
of preservation of documentary photographs can be
solved in a simpler way by protection, rather than by
restoration. The exceedingly high historical and artis-
tic value of documentary photographs and motion pic-
tures created during the years of development of pho-
tography and cinematography has been noted all over
the world. However, the unsatisfactory storage condi-
tions have been the reason for loss of, or damage to,
numerous documents. Therefore, the more important
is the work on preservation of the existing documen-
tary photographs and motion pictures, of both color
and white-and-black types.
The world’s experience in storage of photographic
materials is based on construction of depositories in
which the materials are kept in the dark at the optimal
temperatures under conditions of controlled humidity.
Air is purified to the maximum possible extent to
remove noxious impurities, and particularly valuable
exhibits are stored in the atmosphere of an inert gas.
However, invaluable historical-and-artistic articles are
concentrated in museums, state institutions, architec-
tural monuments, libraries, and private collections,