Re: Reading faint pencil

On Dec 8, 10:03 pm, <ian.westerga...@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
DON'T wet the paper - the ink on the other side will run!

If you want to try wetting the paper use pure benzine but test it first. I
used benzine to bring up watermarks in stamps when I was a youngster - I
don't know if philatelists still use the technique. Remember benzine is
highly inflamable and also toxic if inhaled in large doses.

I suspect by benzine you mean petrol. It is not a good idea. Benzene
in the UK is no longer used for anything because it is carcinogenic.
And it would likely be a solvent for some inks.

Try laying the paper on a matt black surface (blackboard, paper etc) and
then take digital photograps from various angles with and without flash.
The black surface underneath will help prevent the image from the reverse
side coming through into the photo.

This will help to eliminate print though which will be important since
contrast stretching will almost certainly be needed later. Shallow
angle side lighting can sometimes help make small indentations in the
paper visible. I would try all the non-destructive methods before
comtemplating anything involving solvents.

The black paper technique is also effective when scanning doublesided

<hawke_eye_da...@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Stuart Cresswell wrote:
I have a piece of paper that is about 200 years old with details of my
family, at the time and for about 100 years earlier, as written down by
a young member from the words spoken by an older member

The front is in ink and fairly easy to read.

However on the back is some writing in pencil.

Parts are readable with the naked eye (insufficient to get the meaning)
but it looks as if the paper has been stained partially at some time and
the pencil writing there is either unreadable or almost so.

What colour is the stain? One fairly easy and often effective method
for brown orange age stains is to take a digital photo or a scan and
then in Photoshop or PSPro (or similar) separate the image into RGB
(usually the R channel is clean and the blue channel is useless). The
adjust the histogram of birghtness levels to make the image readable.

Essentially you want to make the stain vanish so try photographing it
through a filter that is the same colour as the stain (gelatine
filters for stage work should be good enough) like Wratten 25 red or
22 orange.

It works the other way around on faded photos the blue channel is more
or less perfect whilst the red or yellow channels have maximum damage
from the faded spots. A cunning linear combination of these and you
can reconstuct an almost perfect image without any obvious fade spots.

I have tried it under ultra-violet which makes a small improvement but
nowhere near enough.

Is there some sort of illumination or other technique that would make
pencil (graphite presumably) writing stand out?

Oblique lighting is worth a try. Or near IR if you can borrow a
Wratten 87 filter to try it.

Trying to remove the stain I think may be out of the question due to the
possible age of the paper and how fragile it could be.
Wetting the paper may be an answer,however it would be wise to get
Professional Archival advice first and it would be wise to have a
camera handy to take photos of what may appear, digital may be the best
in this situation so that you can enhance the image on screen.

It isn't a good idea to do this to 200 year old paper. Courting

Martin Brown