Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Magnetic Photo Album Deterioration


Flickr photo: mimi.bowling

We often hear clients complain they can’t remove their photos from those old inexpensive magnetic photo albums. Those are the ones with the pre-glued pages that you just stick the photos in and slide the plastic sleeve over the outside. While those may seem fast and easy, over many years the glue will have degraded and fused the back of the photo to the photo album page itself. Trying to remove it guarantees ripping your photo.

Several years ago there was a product on the market, Un-Du, that I couldn’t stop raving about. It had it’s own website (http://un-du.com/) and could be found in office supply stores, craft stores and scrap-booking stores. Somehow over the past few years, the company was bought out and the product disappeared.

I was excited the other day to find the product once again available on the internet. Their website looks like it will have the ability to purchase there sometime this summer but another website, Aspen Shops, has Un-Du available for purchase. I was thrilled to see this amazing product back as it is the one thing that really addresses the specific issue of photos stuck in magnetic photo albums.

Invented by the guy who brought us the party game Twister, this stuff truly rocks at removing old adhesives, photo squares, stickers and anything else that is stuck to something else. We have successfully removed newspaper articles rubber cemented to paper over 70 years ago. The cool thing about un-du is that you can remove stickers and other adhesive based products and then reuse them. The solution doesn’t remove the adhesive, it merely loosens it’s hold on whatever is stuck to it. Then when the product dries out, the sticker can be used on something else.

The bottle comes with a little plastic scraper on the end. To remove a photo, you apply a drop or two of un-du in this scraper and let it slide down under the corner of the photo. Moving the scraper tool back and forth, you slowly apply more solution as needed until the photo is released from the album page. If there is glue residue remaining on the back of the photo, you can apply a bit more solution and wipe it off with a tissue or clean cloth.

They used to have a product called PhotoCare which was recommended for cleaning the surfaces of dirty photos to remove finger prints, smudges and of course, adhesive residue. I have been unable to find this product on the internet except on webpages that are a few years old which leads me to believe it too was discontinued. Hopefully Un-Du will bring this product back as well.

When you have a Friday night with nothing to do, we recommend you remove all your photos from these magnetic albums and transfer them into archival quality photo albums. Acid-proof photo pages and albums are available at many craft and photography stores. If your local store doesn’t have them, you can order a catalog from one of several companies specializing in photographic archival supplies.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

5 Responses to Magnetic Photo Album Deterioration

  1. cj Madigan says:

    Stefani,
    Hallelujiah about UnDo coming back on the market. I was going through withdrawal. Nothing else like it! Thanks for the update.

  2. Ron Lee says:

    Thank you for the plug. Aspen Shops does carry all un-du branded products, including a handful of discontinued items. You mentioned PhotoCare solution. PhotoCare, as well as many other un-du products are actually all the same product under different labels. un-du Adhesive Remover and un-du PhotoCare contained the same exact chemical formula, acid-free. I would like to invite you to visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page at http://www.un-du.net/un-du_q_a.htm where you will find an extensive list of uses for these products. These products are available from us online at either http://www.un-du.net or http://www.aspenshopsonline.com (un-du.com is the manufacturer’s website, un-du.net is our website)

  3. Catherine Jordan says:

    Thank you! I just found a family album from a dear aunt who collected generations of our history. The photos and letters are all lovingly placed in a magnetic album and can’t be removed. Un-Du is just what I’m looking for and I thank you for sharing this information.

  4. Nice website/blog, Stefani. Thanks for the time you put into it. I know what it takes!

    Here’s a video from the Smithsonian with a neat trick on how to detach hard to remove photos. The floss is a good trick/technique but be sure to use weights to hold down the page while detaching the photo, as she has demonstrated. It makes the job much easier! See video at http://bit.ly/bREyKZ

    After the photo is detached and in the interim of doing something long term with the photo, this quick video shows a good next step for cheap, quick, easy archival storage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A_7h4yTskE

    • admin says:

      Scott, Thank you for taking the time to comment on the blog article and your great suggestions on technique for removing photos from those albums. Keep up the good saving our precious photos!!

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