Backprinting on 20th Century Photographic Paper


The markings on this site come from the LML archive of photographic papers. They were taken directly from unexposed paper packages or manufacturer sample books containing prints. Photo-postcard were excluded.

The date ranges presented on this site derive from the specimens of paper. Specimens were dated using:

  • Expiration dates on packages (usually 1-2 years after manufacture date)
  • Publication dates of sample books
  • Context clues from images or packaging when dates were not present
We expect the actual period a marking was in use will be broader than the date ranges we report.

LML Codes
The LML created a coding system to classify backprints (example here). The codes reflect our best judgment in distinguishing major variants. The backprints and codes are from the LML archive, which is principally comprised of black and white papers. This site is not a comprehensive catalog of backprints -- many more markings exist for 20th century photographic paper.

Backprints were scanned using an Epson Perfection V600 flatbed scanner:

  • Producing 6,000 x 4,800 pixel TIFF files at 1,200 ppi
  • Images were slightly underexposed to increase legibility of the invariably light markings (the second gray patch on the X-Rite ColorChecker was set to R180, G180, B180)
  • Images were converted to 16-bit grayscale with an equalized histogram for greater legibility
  • Specimen papers were scanned with sheet edges aligned to the edges of the scanner bed to show more accurate marking angles
  • Images were cropped to show an single instance of the back print

Image sets are presented on a "Details" page (example here) for each backprint. These sets incluse the three images of the reverse of a paper specimen as well as packaging/sample book images and cataloging metadata. Throughout the site, clicking on images links to details or higher resolution image files.

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