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Stamp of approval: digitising the British Postal Museum image collection

After providing expert advice and a competitive quotation, TownsWeb Archiving was commissioned to carry out the scanning of approximately 1500 images from the museum’s archive collections. These included glass plate negatives of 1930s publicity photographs, modern transparencies in a variety of formats and lantern slides. They were digitised as part of an ongoing project to make available the museum’s rich holdings of visual material, funded by an initial grant from MLA’s Designation Development Fund to increase access to these unique collections.

British Postal Museum & Archive British Postal Museum & Archive British Postal Museum & Archive

Onsite technical project management

The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) required professionally produced digital images delivered in a short space of time, which TownsWeb Archiving were able to achieve by allocating its own team to work onsite over a ten-day period.

‘Training our own staff to do a job such as this takes time,’ said Martin Devereux, the Deputy Catalogue Manager, explaining the benefit of outsourcing the expertise required for a full digitisation programme. ‘Because the core responsibilities of in-house staff lie elsewhere, the technical knowledge to capture correctly adjusted images on calibrated equipment soon declines. We have had numerous staff attend digital capture courses, but their skills atroph unless refreshed through use.’

Scanning Glass Plate Negatives Scanning Glass Plate Negatives Scanning Glass Plate Negatives

Offsite image processing

After scanning onsite, the images were processed offsite over a further five-day period. Images were returned to BPMA on an external hard-drive as JPG and TIFF files to BPMA’s specification.

BPMA has subsequently added metadata to the images and uploaded the files to their dedicated Image Management Server, which will allow the material to be discovered and made available. Later phases of development may make the material available via print-on-demand.

British Postal Museum & Archive British Postal Museum & Archive British Postal Museum & Archive

Promoting access to our postal heritage

‘The real motivation was to have high-quality images of the material at our disposal for exhibitions, publications and for public access,’ says Martin Devereux. ‘We are delighted with the results’.

‘Without TownsWeb Archiving’s services we could not have completed the work in time and on budget. Their staff have been nothing but approachable, helpful and attentive and I can strongly recommend their services.’

Paul Sugden, Managing Director of TownsWeb Archiving Ltd, commented ‘We are proud of the onsite digitisation works that we undertook for the British Postal Museum.  It is interesting to note that they may offer a ‘print on demand’ service so that members of the public can purchase photographic printed images.  We offer a ‘print on demand’ service ourselves where we will process orders on behalf of our clients and print and despatch photographic prints directly to their customers.  This is similar to the project we undertook for WLCT and it looks like more and more organisations will be looking for new and innovative ways to earn additional revenue.’