View Full Version : Vintage (c. 1920's-30's) Development Tanks Question

08-01-2012, 11:00 AM

I have 5 vintage copper development tanks that I need help identifying and valuing. I purchased these from a man who said they were used with daguerreotypes but I then was told that they are probably the the following...

"The are for glass plate negatives, probably from the 1920s or 1930s. Each tank would have been filled up with liquid developer, stop bath, fixer (hypo), or water. The rack (containing the plates to be developed) would be lowered into the required solutions using the wire handles on top of the racks (as shown in your second photo). The lids were put on top to keep the light out and to minimize evaporation."

I loved the way they looked and planned to used them as display when I was doing a lot of my own developing and pursuing photography in college. That was back in the 80's (eek) and now I am thinking of letting them go b/c I don't do as much photography as I had anticipated. I have not idea what they might be worth and the best place to sell them.

Can someone help?

Thanks for any feedback..



08-01-2012, 12:24 PM
I agree with the idea that they were made to develop glass plates, each tank with different chemicals. Probably 1920s.

Unfortunately, I don't think they are very valuable: this kind of tanks are relatively common (but, truth to be told, usually not in kits of 5 tanks), and yours should be restored before putting into use (if possible at all) and in any event looks like at least a good clean could help looking better for display.

However, I'm no expert, maybe they are some special kind or made by some famous factory, but I doubt it.

I'll be looking forward to what the people more familiar with these devices has to say :-D

brian d
08-01-2012, 06:54 PM
Interesting! I would wonder about the copper reacting with the chemicals though

08-01-2012, 10:56 PM
Interesting! I would wonder about the copper reacting with the chemicals though

They look tinned inside.

E. von Hoegh
08-02-2012, 02:40 PM
They look tinned inside.

Indeed they do. They look homemade as well.

Bill Burk
08-02-2012, 03:59 PM
Indeed they do. They look homemade as well.

Even better... Look there is one lid with a round ball and one tank without tinning on the bottom.

I bet the original owner bought one tank with insert and made the remaining four tanks.

Now the question: Did he need five tanks to do reversal processing? Or just like having one tank each for developer, stop, fix and then two water tanks to go back and forth to wash...

E. von Hoegh
08-02-2012, 04:25 PM
One of the lids is tinned, or gavanised, as well. Presoak, dev., stop, fix, wash. I guess the OP has to get samples from the insides and have them analysed. Spectrographic analysis shouldn't cost too much. ;)

08-02-2012, 06:54 PM
My wife the antique maven says 20 - 30 USD each, with perhaps a 10% price break as a set.
Like a lot of other things much depends on what a buyer is willing to go for, and where you are selling.
I don't think they would be very good for actual use, too reactive I would think, even tinned.
I wouldn't do more than lightly cleaning them, They have a nice color as they are now.

08-03-2012, 09:48 AM
Thank you everyone for your knowledge and insight. I feel like a history detective. It is great to hear they we most likely homemade.

I have really enjoyed them all this years. I'll post them on ebay to see if anyone wants to take them off my hands.

All the best and thank you again.