Condition issues can take many forms. Writing/labeling on the image; dirt and fingerprints; tears, folds, and creases; foxing; silvering; insect damage; trimming; staining; scuffs, scratches, and other wear; tack holes; deliberate defacement; fading.
Sometimes poor condition matters little, as when the content of the photograph is so wonderful that I would buy it no matter how damaged it were. But here are a few examples of images that I think are enhanced and/or made more evocative by their poor condition. These were very inexpensive and are among my favorites.
5. I like the composition of this little snapshot and the impressionistic images of the children on the beach. But what makes it extra special is the four little digits floating up in the margin. Again, there is no identifying key, but to someone, these four kids are important and the other people in the image are not.
7. Look at the big greasy fingerprints on this one. Some working man, or maybe a soldier, must have loved one of these women (or the little girl) very much. The image is also oddly trimmed, perhaps to fit in a frame.
12. Here’s another detail from an album page. This one was created by a child who decorated with a border of crayoned kisses only certain photographs of people she loved. These dog twins were thus honored.
Coming soon: Condition Schmondition, Part II