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Marking photos – takes too long

This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  David C 1 year, 8 months ago.

  • Author
  • #135797

    David C

    Marking the backs of photos has been asked before. The answer I see most often is to use a soft dull #2 pencil. This works good on older photos.

    Many photos from the 1980’s and going forward have a waxy or greasy feel to the backs. It takes me at least a minute just to write something like “H-LP 1234” on the backs. For many individual digits and letters I have to go over the character a dozen times before it even comes close to being legible. Zeros are easy; I just keep going around in a circle. But the other characters are a real pain.

    Isn’t there SOMETHING other than a soft dull #2 pencil we can use that is safe and won’t bleed through on newer waxy or greasy photos? Maybe a crayon?

    David Cranston, Curator
    Hadley-Lake Luzerne Historical Society
    52 Main St – PO Box 275
    Lake Luzerne, NY 12846

  • #135799

    Sharon McCullar

    This is a problem I also have experienced. I have had some success with a type of pencil used by scrapbookers to mark photographs. I used the Creative Memories photo labeling pencil for a long time but as I understand it this is no longer available. It made a nice dark mark without a lot of effort or retracing.
    As an alternative, I have also used artist pencils, called watercolor pencils to mark on the slick backs of these modern photos. One brand is called Aquarelle. Slightly moistening the tip makes the mark go on smoothly. You will have to be careful to sleeve the photos because the watercolor pencil is soft and water soluble so there is a risk of transfer if one just marks and stacks but I am in the habit of marking, letting it dry a moment while I scan and then sleeving as I process.
    I have had too much trouble with the soft lead regular pencil with too much pressure being applied during the marking process and, as you experienced, a poor quality mark.
    I welcome suggestions of other alternatives for a nice dark mark on this type of photograph paper.

    Sharon McCullar

  • #135800

    Maggie Wessling

    Hi David and Sharon,
    I recommend a woodless pencil made by a company called Koh-I-Noor called the “Progresso 8911/9B”. This is a very soft pencil and writes beautifully on fiber based and resin coated photograph papers. I would recommend not sharpening the point too sharp, and writing with your photograph on a hard surface so you don’t impress the paper or the image. Other companies also make soft pencils that will work on photographs and you just need to look for a higher number with a B- like 8B or 9B. I would not recommend the Aquarelle water-soluble pencils in case the marks do ever get wet and run and then you lose your number!
    Good luck,
    Maggie Wessling

  • #135801


    I use a Prismacolor, non-photo blue pencil you can find on Gaylord. It works really well.

  • #135814

    David C

    I purchased a non-photo blue pencil several months ago (made by Staedtler) in an arts and craft supply store. Don’t know if it is the same as the one offered by Gaylord or not. It did not help. Lately I read that “non-photo blue” is the name for a shade of blue… because it does not photocopy good in gray tones. I’ll bet the one I bought was just an ordinary everyday colored pencil.

    A few days ago I found prismacolor brand pencils at a small non-chain arts and craft store that also sells a few “archival” products. I took one of our photos with me just to see how it worked. The non-photo blue worked, but it was too light in color. I tried the black (#PC-935) and it was legible. I bought two of them. I think I’ll go back and also buy the non-blue for those times when we have a photo with original writings on the back of a photo.

    The non-chain store also had the woodless pencils made by Koh-I-Noor, but they had 12B; not 9B. The 12B was too soft and I had to make my letters big.

    Thank you for your input.

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