FAQ & Information

Archive Images is a web based photograph library or image bank which went live in 2011. Put simply, it is a convenient way of sourcing and purchasing images for use in any way that you want. The pictures within the collection date from the mid Victorian period up to about 1980. All of the images are either out of copyright or have reproduction rights which are held by us.

The site is fully searchable using basic keywords, with the option to refine the search for more specific results. Images can be found either by theme or by place and they are viewable as screenshots, with the option to then purchase a high resolution downloadable scan for a flat fee. What you do with that scan after purchasing it is up to you.

All of the images on this website are guaranteed to have been either scanned or photographically copied by us from original prints, negatives or transparencies. None have been scanned from modern copy prints or from books published within the last 60 sixty years.


What images are carried on the site?

Topographical: Views of places and topographical themes, such as railways, mining, canals, road transport and so on, will form the majority of the images on offer, certainly initially. We currently have over 50,000 images available, which will obviously take some time to load on to the site. The collection covers the whole of the UK and Eire but with particular strength in the North West and South West of England, North and South Wales and the Highlands of Scotland. In regard to themes, we are strong on railways, mining and industrial, canals and waterways, and ports and harbours.

Subjects: Art Nouveau and Art Deco images from old postcards, old advertising images, Edwardian period glamour studies, social history studies, aviation, military, shipping and sport form the main subject themes at the present. However, we will be looking to develop this further in the future. We do not intend to carry images of famous people, such as film stars, sportsmen or politicians, from the last 50 years, and we do not carry modern artist-produced images. At the present time, all of the images on the site are of UK scenes or subjects.

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How much do the images cost?

There is a flat fee for each image of £15.00. Once you have made your purchase, via our secure ordering facility, the image will automatically download to your desktop.

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How many images can I buy, is there a discount?

There is no limit to the number of images you might wish to purchase at any one time. As each image includes the right to do whatever you want to with it, there is no discount for bulk or multiple purchases.

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How do I search the images?

Simply enter a place name or theme into the box and click the Search button. For those wishing to make more detailed searches, the scans have been uploaded using as many relevant keywords as possible. Thus you could search a particular place for a specific feature, such as a school, church or street name. Searches can be further refined by using names or other titles, such as railway companies (either by initials, GWR, L&NWR and L&NER, or by the full name, Midland Railway, Taff Vale Railway, etc), or by entering shop, business, factory or works names (any that are prominet or relevant to the picture are loaded as keywords; or features with well known local names, such as a viaduct or other construction in an otherwise isolated location. Year dates or decades can be used to refine searches still further.

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Is it possible to email requests for images not on the site?

Yes. The database of images will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. With currently around 50,000 images to be loaded, this in itself will take some time, whilst new pictures, photographs and collections are being acquired all the time. Therefore, we will respond positively to any requests for images of specific places or subjects and if we have anything suitable already in the collection, we will endeavour to get it uploaded as a priority. If we get numerous requests for certain areas or themes, we will concentrate on uploading everything we have available as soon as feasibly possible. In any case, new images will be uploaded to the site at the rate of 50-100 every week.

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What size are the downloaded images?

All of the images are scanned and saved at slightly under A4 in size. The actual measurement is 25cms on the longest dimension, depending on whether the image is landscape or portrait. Obviously, the overall size also depends on the dimensions of the original photograph, negative or colour slide from which the scan was taken but the largest dimension of the scan is always 25cms. Black and white (greyscale) pictures are at 300dpi and 25cms or 3,000 pixels in width or height. Colour images are at 350dpi and 25cms or 3,000 pixels in width or height. All are saved as High Quality Jpegs, so the images are of a suitable size for publication at up to full page in an A4 sized book or magazine.

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What image quality can I expect?

The quality of the images is dependent entirely on the quality of the original from which each individual scan was taken. Clear and clean photographs, whether taken in the 19th century or the 21st, are not a problem. However, many of these images only exist as battered old photographs, or half tone postcards or slides taken when colour film speeds were very slow and good images difficult to capture under all but the most optimum conditions. Nevertheless, we have not been judgmental on quality. If the picture shows something of interest and possibly rarity, and no better version has been found, the scan has been uploaded on the basis that it may be of interest to somebody. We have also undertaken some basic cleaning of most of the images available, 'painting' out obvious blemishes in the sky or the dust and scratches usually found on older colour slides. Colours have also been set for optimum viewing. However, downloading the scan will enable the purchaser to carry out further enhancements to their liking in one of the commercially available software programmes.

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Where do the images come from?

Most of the images in our collection are scanned from old postcards or photographs. Some come from original glass plates, film negatives or colour transparencies. These have been sourced over a period of thirty years dealing in old picture postcards and photographs, during which time we have scanned or photographically copied many of the images that have passed through our hands.

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What can I do with the images?

Basically, whatever you like. You can print off glossy photographic pictures at home for your own use, for resale as framed prints or for resale as reproduction postcards. You can have them professionally printed if you wish, in any size or quantity you want, for resale. Or you can publish them in a book you or someone else may be compiling or writing. We place no restrictions whatever on what you would like to do with the image or images you have purchased. The one request we would make is that if using the image in a publication you credit us as well as your own name, thus: A. Smith/Archive Images. This serves a dual purpose. It obviously publicises the Archive Images picture library facility but also, in the event of any dispute as regards the provenance of any image, the buck comes back to us! You do not need to worry.

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Why are we selling reproduction rights to the images?

Because the sheer number of images we have accummulated over the years means we have far more than we can ever make use of ourselves. Therefore, rather than be precious or protective about them, we thought we would make them available to as wide an audience as possible for general use. Further, many of the images are not necessarily unique, so even if we did not make them available, some of them would get used as a result of original copies existing in other collections.

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So why can't we find our own original copies to use?

You can – in theory anyway! In practice it's not that easy, particularly if you are looking for a specific image or even several images on one theme or place. You might have to attend several postcard or photograph fairs before finding anything unusual of a particular place or on a certain theme, whilst the search for one particular image could take years. Add up all the expenses involved with travelling to these events, entrance fees and so on, not to mention the time wasted, and it is obviously much easier and cheaper to purchase the image or images you want from us without having to leave your computer. If owning an original copy is what's important, however, then you will need to search for yourself. Alternatively, you can search internet auction sites from the comfort of your own home but again, it can be months or years before anything you want turns up, whilst you may have to outbid several other collectors to get it. Whilst many of the images we hold can be bought as originals for around £5.00 or less, some of the more collectable ones – railway stations, collieries, trams and motor buses for instance, can easily cost up to £100 each or more.

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What is the copyright situation on old images?

There is a lot of misunderstanding as to copyright and how it applies to old photographic images but the situation is generally quite simple. The bulk of the images on this website were taken by photographers who are long since dead. The copyright on these images, unless specifically passed to someone else, has lapsed and cannot now be revived. Purchase or ownership of an old negative does not grant the holder copyright. Someone owning or purchasing an original print made many years ago from that same negative would have as much right to use it as the person owning the negative. As such, the majority of the images we have for sale are not covered by copyright and we are not selling copyright with their purchase. What we are selling is the right to reproduce that image in any way you wish. Basically, any photographs taken before 1945 will be out of copyright. All of the images on this website are guaranteed to have been either scanned or photographically copied by us from original prints, negatives or transparencies. None have been copied from modern copy prints or from books published within the last 60 sixty years. Ultimately, we make a firm guarantee that any dispute or question as to provenance arising from any use you might make of the image you have purchased can be referred directly back to us for settlement. We know where all of the images have come from and can prove it!

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What about post 1945 images?

The images on the website which were taken after 1945 are from original colour transparencies. These may have a copyright which rests with us or may still be in copyright but because the photographer has deceased the right to reproduce them now rests with us.

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Are any of the images taken from publications?

Occasionally, we may upload historic or important images taken from long out of print or scarce publications. These may be hard to find trade publications, or local news magazines, or industrial brochures of some description. In all cases, they will be at least 60 years old and full details of the publication from which they have been copied will be given.

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Why are there no sepia images?

Original sepia photographs are scanned as greyscale because sepia tones vary so much. Greyscale is actually what many think of as black & white. With a digital scan, however, black & white is literally just that – black and white, no in-betweens! Greyscale gives all the subtle mid tones which make up a proper photograph. For anyone, such as picture framers or print sellers, who wishes to print out their images as sepia, follow the link below for instructions on sepia toning of images.

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