Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rescue From The "Chemical Sandwich of Doom" on Sorting Saturday

During a recent sorting episode, an album turned up in the Family Home. Husband and I were the star subjects as it was an album of snapshots from our wedding day, taken by the unofficial photographer (aka Dad)! I gasped in horror when I opened the album and saw what was inside. The pictures were neatly arranged in one of those horrible sticky "magnetic" albums that we now know are dangerous for our beloved photographs. Hence the name, Chemical Sandwich of Doom, given by one of my favorite archivists, Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist. (You can read even more about the Chemical Sandwich of Doom here.)

I decided to try out my new Flip Pal on this album. So one evening while watching TV, I carefully removed the pictures one by one, scanned them using the Flip Pal, and placed them in a new archival safe album. When the scanning was done, it was easy to load the pictures onto my laptop, in one batch, using the following filename format:


As a side note, I also found a "Mother's Album" containing pictures from the same day whose materials were much friendlier to photos than the Chemical Sandwich of Doom. You could definitely see the difference in the condition of the pictures between the two albums.

Another rescue mission accomplished.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Oh dear...worry, worry worry! I have about a dozen of those chemical sandwiches full of photos I took from the early 70s to the late 90s up in the top of my closet. I MUST get them down NOW and remove them from peril! (Thanks for shoving me over the edge of my procrastination!)

  2. What a lovely wedding photo! So glad you could rescue the photos to a safer environment.

  3. Thank you Dorene!

    Lisa, Good luck on saving your photos. Those albums sure were popular. I have rescued quite a few already but more keep cropping up!

  4. Your father took a GREAT photo! Glad you were able to rescue it.

    I have some of those albums that I cannot get the photos out of, yet.

    I have scanned the photos on the page, and then, set it aside. Someday I hope to get them out, but, if not, I do have the scanned image.

    I have filled several trash cans with the remains of these icky albums.

  5. I have many of those devil albums dating back to the 60's. Some of the pictures have grown into the glue and permanently attached themselves. I've had to decide which side to preserve and which to photograph before I cut it apart. I've taken good quality closeups with my macro lens and mourned the loss of a lot of old Polaroid hard copies. I will definitely buy one of those Flip scanners and start to scan while watching TV. Better use of my time than folding clothes.. and I'm SOOOO good at multi-tasking! Thanks for the idea!

  6. Carol and Anonymous,

    Good luck with getting your pictures out of those albums. I've been fortunate so far (knock on wood) in that none of my photos have become one with the page.

  7. What's amazing to me is that the oldest photos I have (some over 100 years, are in the best shape--even though my grandmother kept some in a plastic sleeve of some sort -- but it must have been acid free. I transferred to an archival plastic sleeve to be safe. Photo albums from 70-80 years ago-- on that black paper using photo corners - good as new. Most amazing, the 100 year old letters I have (many deciphered/translated and on my blog) aren't yellowed or cracked, despite having been folded! Paper was better back then.

  8. I may have forgotten to put in my name on my last comment about old letters and photos: sorry.

  9. Linda,

    I have many old photos, letters, etc that are in fantastic shape too. I've wondered if maybe the paper was better as well. I also think I've been somewhat lucky in that they were at least stored in a place with a fairly mild environment. Not too hot or cold, most of the time, and hot too dry or humid, most of the time.

    Anyway, I'm still trying to improve their living environment so they will last another 100 years.