It is a frail roll of material that stretches 2.4 metres long.
Gloves have to be worn to touch it and exposure to light will destroy its snapshot of information.
It is a 110-year-old panoramic picture of Orange taken in late 1907, which was donated to the Orange Regional Museum on Wednesday.
The panorama will be sent to a conservation expert to preserve it.
Photo restoration expert Robert Bruce and the Orange and District Historical Society’s Phil Stevenson have painstakingly photographed the original and used modern digital technology to create a black and white copy.
The copy has also been donated to the museum and it is likely to be blown up and displayed on a wall.
Copies of the image are on display at several locations around town but the discovery of the original has revealed they are missing a piece of the panorama.
VIDEO: Robert Bruce points out the picture’s highlights
About 16 per cent of the original, extending east toward Mount Canobolas has now been revealed.
Mr Stevenson said the photographer, believed to be William Bursle, climbed to the top of Dalton’s Mill to capture the view, starting from Mount Canobolas and extending to the Kinross building in East Orange.
When I first saw it, I didn’t think there was a ghost of a chance of doing it.Robert Bruce, photo restorer
Mr Bruce said making the copy had been hard work but rewarding.
“When I first saw it, I didn’t think there was a ghost of a chance of doing it,” he said.
“The Dalton Brothers original mill is in here, I’ve never seen it before.”
Orange mayor Cr Reg Kidd said the original panorama had also revealed the first Orange Town Hall, now the OCTEC building, which is missing in other copies.
“We’ve found the Town Hall,” he said.
Cr Kidd said the photo was invaluable as it showed Orange developing from its birth as a gold-mining town.
READ MORE: Glory days of the Daltons
He said the mills, brewery, stockyards, railway station, commercial centre and substantial residences in the panorama showed the city being firmly established.
Cr Kidd said it would also be useful for students and residents to see the city as it was last century.
And there is more good news for history lovers as another, larger, panorama, showing Lucknow, taken around the same time, by the same photographer, has just been found.