AICCM Symposium 2006, Conservation of Paper, Books and Photographic Materials. Post-prints and Posters. 19-21 April 2006, Wellington, New Zealand. p174-193


There is a diverse range of views regarding body fluids (including saliva) among community groups. This range of opinion is reflected within the field of photographs conservation regarding the use of saliva to clean photographic prints. Attitudes to the use of saliva vary; some professionals use it openly and often, some are guarded about their use and others display a strong aversion to it. Given these widely ranging views there will be situations where the use of saliva will not be appropriate. Identifying a safe, effective alternative could be advantageous. There is little published information available on the use of human saliva or synthetic alternatives in conservation treatments, and still less in the area of photographs conservation. Fundamental questions about the use of saliva require answers. For example, could the composition and variability of human saliva make this solution unsafe for use with photographic prints? Are human saliva and the synthetic alternative effective at removing surface grime and accretions from photographic prints? When used on photographic prints, how do the solutions compare to each other in preservation safety and cleaning efficacy?This preliminary investigation compares the preservation safety and cleaning efficiency of human saliva and a synthetic alternative on silver gelatin photographic prints (referred to in this text as photographic prints). Information about the components and variability of saliva, collated from allied disciplines, is presented.The cleaning functions of the two solutions, Photographic Activity Test results and pre- and post-cleaning density readings are discussed. Observations are made relating to the clearing of enzymes from treatment sites.

4th Book, Paper & Photographs Symposium, 2006
Paper author:
Ruth Oliver