Cleaning and repackaging the Stanley Opie archaeology collection

Back in November we announced that we had received a grant from Cornwall Heritage Trust to begin a programme of conservation, digitisation and dissemination of the Stanley Opie collection of archaeology photographs. After a delay while we awaited restocking and delivery of the necessary materials from our conservation supplier, the project has now begun.

Repackaging glass negatives

Repackaging glass negatives

The collection of about 1,000 quarter-plate glass negatives (plus a few acetate negatives and positive prints) is being cleaned and repackaged in batches of 50. Each glass plate must first be removed from the old folded card slip, then be inspected. If in a stable condition the glass side is then cleaned with distilled water and a conservation-grade microfibre cloth, before being lightly brushed to remove any loose dust on the emulsion side. Most of the slides are fairly dirty (residue from development, mould from storage), and the difference before and after cleaning is significant. This will mean clearer digitised images, and provide more stability for long term storage of the negative.

The cleaned negative is then placed into a new cruciform negative enclosure. These arrive flat and we must first number and fold them in batches before cleaning commences. The negative in its new enclosure is then placed into a larger box that can accommodate forty of them. The box is then labelled with the collection name and number range contained within.

Each box of negatives is then carefully digitised and the scan is attached to the corresponding record in our photographic database.

This database will soon be available online, and you will be able to browse Stanley Opie’s wonderful and largely unseen photos of Cornwall’s heritage as seen from the 1920s-50s. We plan on releasing regular updates to the database, adding recently digitised images to their catalogue entries.

We are very grateful to Cornwall Heritage Trust for enabling us to undertake this project.

The old cardboard slips and a new glass negative enclosure

The old cardboard slips and a new glass negative enclosure

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Cleaning and repackaging the Stanley Opie archaeology collection

One Response

  1. I am very happy to have discovered this project to preserve Stanley Opie’s work. He was a close friend of my father for many years, often came to our home, and when I was in Redruth in 1956, he & I spent many days together walking around Carn Brea and other spots. He was living in Mylor at the time.
    I have many memories of stories he would tell about his digs, as well as a few photos. He married and lived in London where he was (I think) the Librarian for the Duchy of Cornwall. The sound of his often raspy, asthmatic voice still echoes in my memory. I may have copies of some papers he published about the future of mining in Cornwall. According to my father (Leonard Carne), Stanley knew more about Cornwall than any other living person.

    Margaret Carne 30 September, 2016 at 1:19 am #

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