Nigel Atherton looks back at past AP issues in our archive, this week we explore the 8 February 1922 issue.

From the Archive: 8 February 1922 cover

From the Archive: 8 February 1922 cover

100 years ago this week AP was preoccupied with the practical problems of living in hard water areas. The Reverend St John wrote of his repeated failures with the carbro process at his Herefordshire home. ‘I had almost given up the carbro process in despair when I decided to give it a trial in Manchester, where the water is soft, with the result that I have been able to get a perfect carbro every time, provided that the bromide print used was also made in Manchester.

The Editorial, on the ‘Spirit of the Times’

The Editorial, on the ‘Spirit of the Times’

An ad for Johnson & Sons chemicals archive page

An ad for Johnson & Sons chemicals

Meanwhile AP’s weekly columnist, The Walrus, discussed a suggested cure for another problem associated with hard water: removing scum from negatives. ‘Some of these old photographers are a weird lot, and I am not surprised to hear that the advice was to lick the negative,’ he said: ‘I blush to confess that if anyone were to accuse me of having licked a few gross of plates in my time I should have to plead guilty and throw myself at the mercy of the court.

British-made Butcher’s Popular Cameo AP archive page

The British-made Butcher’s Popular Cameo – kits from £3 15s to £6 (£187 to £300)

It is a dirty trick, but a photographer cannot be fastidious. In my own case though I have never hung out my tongue for the purposes of scum removal. I wash the plate thoroughly first, and shift every trace of scum with a scrubbing brush.’ So why did he lick his negs? ‘The negative being quite clean it may be asked why I am ever so horribly vulgar as to lick it. My excuse is a poor one. I do it as the most expeditious way of removing surface water, although I always advise other people to use a piece of damp chamois leather.’

archive portrait image

This picture won the first prize of £300 (£15,000 today) in a portrait competition

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