This magic lantern slide by William Weaver Baker shows a collection of parish registers, the majority of which are in poor condition with torn covers and damaged pages. The title and topic of the slide suggests Baker was interested in preservation of historic objects, and this photograph is an early example of the topic of object conservation. Baker was very interested in Exeter’s historic buildings and objects and recorded many of these in his photographs, often working with the museum and the Cathedral. It is not known where these registers were stored, but is possible they were part of Exeter Cathedral’s library. In the early 20th century photography was seen as a solution to the problem of the disintegrating past: photographing historic documents and monuments was thought to provide a permanent record. However glass slides break easily, images fade and associated information lost. These images were not as permanent as people believed.