Re: Argyrotype

From: Sandy King ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 01/10/04-03:27:12 PM Z
Message-id: <a06020401bc261751d0e7@[]>


You are correct in that the case that was made by Mike Ware for
argyrotype was based primarily on its greater archival qualities in
comparison to vandyke and kallitype. Ware surmises, correctly in my
opinion, that the Achilles's heel of silver iron processes is that if
any ferrous iron is left in the print it is sure to react eventually
with the silver metal. What he writes is this:

"The inherent problem of the iron-based silver processes lies in the
danger of leaving residual ferric iron in the print - to its ultimate
undoing, because iron(III) will oxidise silver with consequent
degradation of the image. It is this problem that the Argyrotype
process has been designed to avert."

Since it is virtually impossible to remove every bit of the residual
ferric iron from a vandyke or kallitype these processes are sure to
degrade in time. It is not a question of if but of when.

However, as you suggest, toning a Vandyke or kallitype, and changing
the silver metal to a metal that does not oxidize, should eliminate
the danger and make these processes at least as archival as an
untoned argyrotype, probably more so if toning is done to completion.

You might recall a thread some time back in which I reported on the
results of bleaching a palladium-toned kallitype with a very strong
solution of the Kodak R-14 bleach. Even after a very long time in
this strong bleach the density of the print changed very little,
indicating that the toning had made the print much more permanent. I
don't know how to equate 20 minutes of time in such a bleach with
real time but I suspect that it is the equivalent at least a hundred
years or more.

So it does appear to me that toning with substances such as gold,
palladium, platinum or gold, if done to completion, gives great
archival qualities to vandykes and kallitypes. And that being the
case argyrotype, which almost certainly would also benefit form
toning, would appear to offer absolutely no advantage over either
vandyke or kallitype. And it is very paper sensitive, as I an others
have pointed out.

I know that some people have been able to make very nice prints with
argyrotype and I myself had some limited success with the process,
but on the whole I think it is hard to make a case for it given the
fact that so few papers work with it. One of the pleasures I have
with processes like vandyke, kallitype and palladium is experimenting
with the image on different papers. Well, with argyrotype you are
certainly not going to get this pleasure because the papers that work
well with it are few and far between.

I am sorry if these opinions offend anyone's ego, because I really
don't want to offend anyone. But if my opinions based on experience
do offend, then so be it.

Sandy King

>On Sat, 10 Jan 2004, Peter Marshall wrote:
>> My experiences with the argyrotype (and the enhanced cyanotype for that
>> matter) were not dissimilar to yours. I quickly reverted to traditional
>> methods, finding them more reliable.
>I hadn't planned to give argyrotype another thought, let alone try it, but
>this discussion focussing on the process keeps nagging at the part of my
>mind not frozen with the 8 degree Fahrenheit temperature this day, which I
>can't translate into celsius because celsius doesn't go that low.
>My RECOLLECTION is that argyrotype was presented, not for its ease of
>working, but for its greater archivality. The explanation I recall is that
>the small particles of VDB and kallitype would present more surface for
>(oxidation?) and therefore be more perishable. The corollary may/must have
>been that the argy---- has larger particles (?).
>I don't know that properly processed VDB is so perishable... or if
>anybody knows that for sure, really. Accounts at the time and since have I
>believe been inconclusive. But now I wonder if properly *gold toned* (or
>other toned) VDB et al, compensate. That is, would they be more archival
>than untoned argy... or equal to toned....??
>If the a-process were, let's say, closer to the level of pt/pd for
>archivality, wouldn't that mitigate the difficulty of doing it? (That is
>assuming the concern with archivality is that important in the grand
>scheme of things.) Some people even think gum is difficult, but properly
>motivated manage to learn. On the other hand, if the difference is
>dubious or unproved, and even Sandy King & Peter Marshall have trouble
>with it, one's energy might be better placed elsewhere (like digging for
Received on Sat Jan 10 15:31:47 2004

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