QUESTION: I’ve heard that collectors sometimes soak old cards in water in order to remove album paper and glue from the backs. Won’t the water dissolve off or smear the printing ink?
ANSWER: I’m not giving advice whether or not you should or shouldn’t soak cards, but I can tell you that old card printing ink doesn’t dissolve in water. It takes specific solvents to dissolve the printing inks on cards.
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QUESTION: For displaying memorabilia like photos, cards and autographs, what’s the best way to protect them from fading from light?
ANSWER: The first thing to know is that the less light the better. If you are going to display them in your office or den, turn off the lights and close the window shades when aren’t there. No point in exposing them to light when no one’s in the room. Direct sunlight is the worst.
There is UV protectant glass, plastic and films for glass, including glass that protects both UVA and UVB wavelengths. Many ball cubes are UV protectant, but make sure they are when you buy. There are also LED lights that give off less of the damaging UV light.
Also, for any cards, photos are such you want to display, you can make a digital reprint and display the reprint on the wall. If and when the reprint fades, no problem. You can replace it with another. I’ve made home computer digital reprints just for that purpose and highly recommend this.
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QUESTION: What’s the rarest type of photo you’ve seen?
ANSWER: A dealer sent me the below photo of a mid 1800s tintype on cloth. Far from attractive, but that’s the only example I’ve seen. Tintypes aren’t rare, but on cloth instead of metal is. I told him he should send it to a photography museum.
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QUESTION: Is there a good way to tell if an old pinback is really old and not a reproduction?
ANSWER: A quick and simple test is to look at the back. Antique pins are usually well corroded and rusted dark. If the back is shiny and new looking, that’s a sign the pin isn’t old, or at least the back isn’t.
The fronts of old pins often also have signs of aging, including crackling and toning, and a black light is always helpful in weeding out cases where a forger would go as far as to put a modern front to an antique back. But the corroded back is a quick giveaway of an antique pin.
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QUESTION: Is altering a baseball card illegal?
ANSWER: No, but it is illegal if you don’t disclose known alterations at sale.
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QUESTION: How come some old photos have black borders? Can an original photo have a black border?
ANSWER: Though uncommon, original photos, including old ones, can have black borders.
For the common white bordered photos, the edges of the photographic negative was held in a holder during exposure. The holder blocked light, thus leaving the edges of the photopaper unexposed to light and the original white of the paper.
Many negatives have transparent borders and if the photographer didn’t block the borders in the holder during exposure, light would go through the edges and turn the paper dark. That’s what happened with black border photos.
ANSWER: No. Modern digital printing looks better and better and is more and more detailed at the naked eye level, but it looks less and less like the original 1909 T206 lithography at the microscopic level.
The paradox with printing technology and duplication is the more closely it looks like the original on the naked eye lvel, the less it looks like the original at the microscopic. Today’s computer printers use a fine maze of tiny dots to make better naked eye reproductions, but this fine maze makes it look very different from the original printing under the microscope.
And that doesn’t even get into that a perfect counterfeit would also have to perfectly duplicate the stock and ink, which would be a hard task in and of itself.
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QUESTION: Are there are any good movies about forgeries? Do you read or watch movies because they are about forgery?
ANSWER: I don’t seek out movies on the subject, but legendary director Fritz Lang’s 1945 classic Scarlet Street is a great film noir about art forgery and scamming. Stars Edward G. Robinson and I highly recommend it.