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Stewart Bale collection

A cellulose diacetate negative with severe wrinkling. The image shows Austin cars outside Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. Accession number 54937 This glass plate negative has suffered from water damage and mould growth. An image from the Stewart Bale collection showing deck chairs on the liner the Queen Mary in 1947. Accession number 47535-179 A photograph from the Stewart Bale archive showing a BICC Prescot dance at Leigh in 1960. Accession number 60200-2 Littlewoods, Walton Vale. Accession number 38897

Select each object to find out more about it

The Stewart Bale photographic collection, held in the Maritime Archives and Library, is a nationally important archive documenting what British life and work was like in the 20th century. 

Conserving the collection

In addition to the company records and 2,000 black and white gelatin silver prints, there are also about 200,000 negatives in the Stewart Bale collection. These are all included in the paper conservation category, because paper conservators treat all photographic media. 

Negatives on cellulose acetate may develop wrinkles. The acetate and the light-sensitive gelatin layer contract and expand at different rates with changing air temperature and moisture content. If the wrinkling is not too far advanced we can copy the image. It is possible to remove the wrinkling but the process is complicated and time consuming.

Find out more about how the collection is conserved.

Stewart Bale Ltd

Stewart Bale Ltd was founded as an advertising agency by Herbert Stewart Bale (1859-1929), a printer who came to England from Australia in the early 1900s. The need soon arose for high quality illustrative photography for the business. A difficulty in finding photographers to meet these high standards eventually led them to fulfil this role themselves when Herbert’s son Edward Stewart Bale (1889-1944) came into the firm as a photographer.