Backprinting on 20th Century Photographic Paper

Lens Media Lab Backprinting Project

Use of the site requires credentials, which are available here. Your email should include a brief description of your research aims.

During the 20th century, manufacturers of photographic paper occasionally applied markings to the reverse of their papers. These markings were documented as part of the Lens Media Lab's comprehensive effort to catalog and characterize its archive of historic photographic papers. Out of the 7,174 papers examined, 788 exhibited backprints. This site presents each of these markings.

The site is organized by manufacturer and decade, navigable using the links on the left. Links associated with a manufacturer's name lead to compilations of their backprints. These indices are arranged semi-chronologically, with each variant assigned an LML code. Links associated with a decade lead to compendia of all backprints for the manufacturer within that date range. Throughout the site, images are clickable links leading to further details on the the marking, the specimen paper and/or higher resolution images.

The dates presented on this site are for the paper specimens. We expect these ranges are narrower than the duration of use for the markings. More information on dating and other technical details can be found on the Methods page.

This project is a substantial update to the Paul Messier LLC backprinting website first released in 2007, which presented 278 examples derived from a survey of just over 3,000 papers.

The Credits page provides citation information and acknowledgements.

examples of backprinting found on photographic paper
©2007 Paul Messier LLC & ©2024 Lens Media Lab