At one time using those magnetic albums with self-adhesive surfaces to arrange and hold in place photos was just about the only type of album used, especially in the 1960s-1990s. Magnetic albums aren’t magnetic at all. The pages have adhesive on them. The adhesive is acidic (aka very bad for photos). The photos can yellow and it also makes the photos very difficult to remove in many cases, which can cause curling or tearing if you do succeed in removing them.
The key is now is the time to remove them from those albums. The chemicals used to hold the pictures actually harm them. First, always scan or photograph your originals before attempting removal. Lift up the plastic sheet over each page of the album very carefully.
For unsticking photos from magnetic albums start with a small knife (not a sharp one). Use a knife that is rounded on the end and the metal is thin, like little spatulas, so you don’t damage the photo. Slowly slide the end under an edge of the picture and work your way around until you can remove it. Reminder, do this very slowly and take your time. If you damage or tear the photo it is hard to fix it or never could be replaced. This process is much safer than any type of chemical removal.
Another idea to removing the photos besides a knife is dental floss. Make sure there is no wax the floss. Using the floss, holding one end in each hand and going behind the photo should do the trick. Again, go slow!
Now you have the photo unattached, just don’t stack it on others because the sticky residue might cause them to become glued together and a severe problem. Once each photo is individual, maybe re-scan some of the photos while you have them available. Also get any written information (names, dates, places) placed in the album or on the back of the photo.
If you want them in an album, use one that is archival in quality. The best new albums must have PAT on it, which stands for ‘Photographic Activity Test’, and it is the standard for museum-quality storage. There are many different suppliers of boxes and albums for photos, just make sure it has ‘PAT’ on it. Using this type will help safe guide your treasured photos for future generations.
You might have albums with newspaper articles, this is super hard to get removed with tearing the low-grade paper of a newspaper. Here you must scan or take a clear photo of the news article for sure! Make note of any published dates, you might be able to find that article using an online digital newspaper site.
Photos: Magnetic album with photos, removing using dental floss, and PAT photo storage.
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