Albums and longevity

We occasionally get asked how our albums will last as we are using terms like “heirloom” to describe them, so we thought it helpful if we dig a little deeper into the product and how it is made.

The album pages are printed as a single sided print, the same print systems we use and have been using for all of our lab production. 

The Traditional Photographic Paper, is a Kodak wet process silver halide print on lustre paper. The Matt Art is a smooth art paper coupled with dye inks and the Master Fine Art is pigment ink on smooth art paper. With the three processes, we follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to the letter, so their performance for longevity is excellent, and in the right conditions, past 100 years.

Each of these three print processes have strengths and weaknesses, so it is worth pairing your choice with what is needed from the album.

Our most durable print finish, therefore album, is the Traditional Photographic Album. This is because the Kodak wet process print holds the dye colourants deep within the emulsion of the paper, so it is protected by the outer clear layers. 

The Matt Art has the dye based ink penetrate into the print surface, but still it’s not held within as in the Pure Photographic paper. 

The pigment ink of the Master Fine Art paper, sits well on top of the surface of the paper, and is bonded by the emulsion, the ink and a light overspray we apply. The pigment inks on paper are the most delicate, and prone to wear, but are the most resistant to Ultraviolet light.

Next we need to consider the binding. Each page is backed to each other with an adhesive, which is PH neutral, and each print becomes the hinge for itself as a page. The combined ‘block’ of pages, with strong endpapers, and additional material to support the spine makes a strong single unit. 

This binding process is not new, it has been in use for much of last century. But with all books and binding, the weak link is the paper itself. The page makes the book, so if you consider a small book, the ration of single page compared to the weight of the whole book is good, however as the number of pages increases, so does the weight, and the same single page is then needing to support much more. So large books will need more care in handling.

In many ways an album is a living thing, it breathes the same atmosphere as we do. Ideally keep your album in a cool dry place where the temperature and humidity will not vary wildly, store it flat to keep pressure off the spine, and take care when looking through it. 

These are your treasures, treat them as such and they will give you generations of joy.