The Silent Bandits

Vol. V No. 1 - SPRING/SUMMER 1993

A picture may be worth a thousand words - but not if it’s dull and discolored. A bad photo album can silently but surely rob you of all your photographic memories. It doesn’t matter whether the photos are color or black and white - you need to take the same precautions for preserving both.

Good photo albums will keep your pictures looking like new for years on end. They also allow you to organize your pictures and to look at them without adding messy fingerprints to their surfaces.

Bad photo albums, the ones to avoid, are magnetic albums and those with plastic pages made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVCs speed the deterioration process, often turning photos yellow. Magnetic albums use sticky cardboard and plastic overlays to anchor the photos in place. The trouble is, both the plastic and glue cause the photos to fade.

When purchasing a photo album, find one of “archival quality” that specifically says it has no PVCs. If it doesn’t say so, you could be buying a “PVC Pac Man” intent on “eating” your pictures.

An archival quality album contains 100% polypropylene or mylar plastic pages and/or 100% acid-free paper pages. It will keep your photos looking new for 50 years or more - an absolute “must” for your wedding and baby pictures. When storing negatives, it is also advisable to use archival type pages and to place each negative strip in a separate sleeve.

Besides photo albums with PVC pages, you may want to avoid another common method of photo storage - holders that resemble the kind used to store computer diskettes. The problem with these is that your photographs are not protected in individual pockets; they may stick together and are easy targets for smudgy fingerprints.

By heeding these tips, your photos won’t fade and neither will your treasured memories!

Editor’s Note: Two of the many sources for archival quality materials are: