Much of my early dark room work was characterised by scratched negatives, finger prints and developer stains, though I did bleach and tone some prints which is a more secure and stable method of preserving them. I’m not alone in having sloppy dark room methods. I have a number of late 19th Century prints by Henry Pouteau who collected and sold copies of the work of other photographers, and some of his prints were not fixed properly and have faded quite badly.
Today’s methods are much easier in comparison which is no doubt why old prints are so collectable, but many of the old skills are still current. It’s all about judgement, and that’s never easy.