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Heritage 2019, 2(1), 568-586; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2010037

Recovering Past Reflections: X-ray Fluorescence Imaging of Electrocleaned 19th Century Daguerreotypes

1
The Department of Chemistry, The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON N6A5B7, Canada
2
The Department of Anthropology, The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON N6A5C2, Canada
3
Canadian Light Source Inc., 44 Innovation Boulevard, Saskatoon, SK S792V3, Canada
4
Cornell University, Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, 200L Wilson Laboratory, Route 366 & Judd Falls Road, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 December 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 9 February 2019 / Published: 12 February 2019
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Abstract

The first commercially viable photographic image, the daguerreotype, captured images for a span of approximately 20 years (1839–1860). DeDterioration now disfigures many of these valuable images. One proposed restoration method is an electrochemical process. However, its safety and effectiveness are still under debate within the conservation community as the effects of this treatment, and its physical and chemical impact on the daguerreotype image, have not yet been analyzed in depth. This study used synchrotron-based micro-X-ray fluorescence to map the elemental distribution pre- and post-electrocleaning on 19th century daguerreotypes using both soft and hard incident X-rays. X-ray absorption spectroscopy was used to probe local chemistry before and after cleaning. Two different electro-treatment methods were compared: the original method proposed by Barger and a second put forward by Wei. When used correctly, both processes significantly reduced the S and Cl surface contamination without dulling the surface. However, both electrochemical methods used in this study resulted in a loss of Hg and Au from the surface. In all cases, the Hg distribution tracks with image particle density allowing the retrieval of full portraits from entirely corroded daguerreotypes, suggesting that Hg concentration may be a useful proxy for the original image. View Full-Text
Keywords: daguerreotypes; synchrotron radiation; X-ray fluorescence microscopy; absorption spectroscopy; heritage science; conservation; surface analysis daguerreotypes; synchrotron radiation; X-ray fluorescence microscopy; absorption spectroscopy; heritage science; conservation; surface analysis
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Kozachuk, M.S.; Sham, T.-K.; Martin, R.R.; Nelson, A.J.; Coulthard, I.; Smieska, L.; Woll, A.R. Recovering Past Reflections: X-ray Fluorescence Imaging of Electrocleaned 19th Century Daguerreotypes. Heritage 2019, 2, 568-586.

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