Scanning Tips - Ferrotypes
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If you are planning on scanning vintage images such as ambrotypes or ferrtoypes, there are some extra steps you will need to take when scanning your images. Special care will need to be taken when handling these images, especially the ambrotypes, so that you don't damage the image or create more work by allowing the surfaces to be scratched.
Ferrotype in a case—
Here, I am preparing to scan an image of a woman and her two children. It's at least Civil War vintage — if not older. The image is in it's original case; which will cause a problem with scanning. It would be best to carefully remove the image from it's case. Scanning it in its current state would create a couple of problems with the finished product. First, the image needs to be in contact with the scanner's glass plate to ensure that the scan will be as crisp and sharp as it can be. The second reason is that the brass frame around the image could cause some problems with the scan due to reflected light, plus it's obscuring part of the image anyway.
|Here, I have removed the image from the case. The outer frame is stamped out of thin brass which envelopes the image, a glass plate, and an inner stamped brass frame. In most cases, there is a spacer made of cardboard which holds the framed image in place inside the case. A tool such as a small knife can be placed between the cardboard spacer and the brass frame and can be used to pry the frame out.|
|This is a view from the back of the brass frame. You'll note that it overlaps in the back, which is how it holds the other components together. Very carefully, press the brass back far enough so that you can remove the ferrotype. You don't want to handle this step roughly as it may easily distort the frame and make it difficult to reassemble so that it fits in the case properly.|
|In this image, I'm showing the components that were being held together by that outer brass frame. This case had a piece of glass inserted to protect the ferrotype. I've seen several examples where the glass is either missing or was omitted altogether. Carefully place the glass and the ornate brass inner frame aside and gently clean the ferrotype with either a can of compressed air or a soft, dry cloth.|
Before placing the image on the glass, make sure it's clear of any dus or other debris by using compressed air or a clean, soft cloth. Place the ferrotype, face down, on the glass as shown left. Remember not to make any adjustments to the scanner settings, otherwise you might make the task of restoring the image far more difficult than it should be.
For 1/4 plates, I'd scan at 300 dpi, but for 1/8 plates, I'd double that setting to 400 - 600 dpi.
Again, if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at
Used with permission from David Frohmader of Cellar Studio Designs.