The value of museum Silver Gelatin Fiber Prints (or Gelatin Silver Fiber Prints)
Gelatin Silver Fiber prints are museum prints that not only will last your lifetime, but that of your grandchildren. They stay black and white and do not degrade. They are rare, archival and the preferred print of masters of photography and found in the estates of Ansel Adams. Ruth Bernhard, or Sally Mann, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Michael Kenna. These prints are also sought after by collectors of fine art photography.
Introduced in the 1870s, Gelatin Silver Fiber prints were the standard for centuries.These collectors items are made using a wet process, in the dark with chemistry called developer, stop, and fixer. Note: Gelatin Silver fiber prints are only available for black and white.
In the last 20 years with the rise of digital photography, the Gelatin Silver Fiber print has all but disappeared from the offerings of photographers because of its complex, expensive and time-consuming printing process. Professional Labs don’t offer these prints.
What is the difference?
The paper is thick, lush, with crisp whites, silvery grays, and deep rich blacks. The silver in the papers makes your images almost come alive. Often there is a slight curl because they are printed wet and had to be air-dried. Think cashmere versus acrylic, leather versus vinyl, Ferrari versus Smart Car.
These are the prints that will last forever. I have been printing and selling these prints for more than 20 years and have yet to have one returned because of a color shift. It is my guarantee.
It is the only paper that I print my special images of Morrison, and my family, on because I want these images to become family heirlooms. They are special.
But I purchased archival prints from my other photographer? Unfortunately, even photographers who claim to sell archival prints can’t guarantee they are archival unless they are Gelatin Silver Fiber prints. Why? Because the manufacturers won’t guarantee their paper is archival and it hasn’t been around for hundreds of years to make sure.
Schedule an appointment just to take a look and hold one of these prints.
These are your family memories, aren’t they worth preserving?
Print Samples and definitions
Resin Coated (RC) Luster prints are the least expensive custom print and commonly sold at most prosumer labs. Most photographers call them gift prints. The paper is thinner and covered with a plastic coating that contains the light sensitive silver particles that create the final image. Unfortunately this plastic coating degrades relatively quickly over time, making RC paper the least archival with some prints degrading in five to seven years depending on how they are handled. We offer this option because it is a lower cost alternative and can be perfect for gifts or if you are on a budget. These are similar to images that you receive if you were to print them yourself as most labs however I use a local printer to make sure they are done correctly.
Gelatin Silver Fiber Museum prints are my favorite choice. The paper has the silver embedded into the cotton fibers of the paper. The image thus becomes a part of the paper unlike the RC or digital prints where the image lies only in the thin plastic emulsion on the top layer of the paper. Gelatin Silver Fiber papers are extremely archival and can last for hundreds of years with proper care. This wet printing technique has been used since the beginning of photography and is the choice for those that want the look, feel, and longevity of a fine art photograph. Gelatin Silver Fiber print will show a greater richness and depth of tonality and detail in shadows.
Selenium-toned or Sepia-toned Gelatin Silver Fiber Museum prints are the highest quality, most expensive, and most beautiful. The image is first printed on Fiber paper and then the print is placed in a bath of toner. Selenium toning intensifies the shadows with a distinct purplish-black or umber hue and brings out shadow detail but has little effect on highlights. Sepia toning creates a browning of the images’ highlights and shadows. The intensity can vary depending on the image. These processes insure maximum longevity of the prints as well as offer a beautiful antique feel.
Please note: Selenium toner is becoming more and more rare and while the selenium toned prints are still available now, it is predicted that these prints won’t be available much longer. These prints will become collector’s items within ten years.
Custom hand-crafted albums covered in antique Asian silks or Japanese papers of your choice are available with acid-free pages. Each album is made to order by a local artist collective and throughout the years as more photos are added becomes a treasured keepsake.
Samples are available at our studios or when you order your prints online.
Why should you invest in museum-quality framing?