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winger
06-30-2013, 12:27 PM
I've mentioned in other posts that my paternal grandmother passed away 2 1/2 years ago at 97. My parents got the job of cleaning out her house (which had been occupied by family members since its beginning in 1832). Her father had done a lot of photography and my parents did find a relatively large number of old negatives, which they brought to me. I do have cool places to store them in this house, but we're about to move to Iowa. I doubt that it would be a good idea to put them in the moving truck or in what I'll be driving as it's summer and I won't have as much control over constant temp. I don't really have time to scan all of them before moving (there are probably at least a hundred and they don't fit current neg sizes).
Some are from vacations (England, Matterhorn, Old Faithful, etc..) and many are family (slightly labeled, not all). Dates noted are mostly between 1900 and 1940ish. He was a fairly decent photographer.
Is there any chance of there being a place I can store them 'til I'm back here? Should I just toss the early family history (oh how that would stab me in the heart) or just do as many as I can and toss the rest? They currently look to be in decent shape, but I read that that can change quickly and unpredictably.

Truzi
06-30-2013, 12:35 PM
Don't toss them. Why not put them in a cooler in the vehicle your driving?

Chris Lange
06-30-2013, 01:07 PM
I would look at this and see what sort of feasible solution you can finagle.

http://motion.kodak.com/motion/Support/Technical_Information/Storage/storage_nitrate.htm#nstor

Tom1956
06-30-2013, 02:30 PM
I don't think I'd chunk them. If you can't give them museum grade storage, so be it. But one thing's for sure--there isn't any archival storage in the landfill.

desertrat
06-30-2013, 02:38 PM
There is a good chance that many of them may not be nitrate base. There are tests you can perform to determine if they are nitrate or safety base. The simplest is to clip a tiny piece off the corner and expose it to a flame. Nitrate base film will burn vigorously, not sure what safety base film does. There may be other tests that don't involve fire. There are members here that have that info, and hopefully they will post soon.

mike c
06-30-2013, 03:04 PM
I also have a large stash of old negs from my great Uncle, but most of them do say safety film on the margin of the roll. Although some don't have any info at all. Managed to contact print the majority of them, from there was going to make contact negs of the best one's but have not got around to it yet.Better get going so as to avoid the situation Wingers in.

Mike

paul_c5x4
06-30-2013, 03:25 PM
Is there any chance of there being a place I can store them 'til I'm back here? Should I just toss the early family history (oh how that would stab me in the heart) or just do as many as I can and toss the rest? They currently look to be in decent shape, but I read that that can change quickly and unpredictably.

Contact your local museum service and/or library archive - Even family "snaps" from that long ago would be of historical interest to many. You may find that a local group would be prepared to transfer the images to a more stable base.

What ever you do, don't just "toss 'em in the trash" - If nothing else, many areas regard nitrate film as hazardous waste.

bsdunek
06-30-2013, 03:34 PM
Don't toss them. Why not put them in a cooler in the vehicle your driving?

This is what I would do also. In fact, I take a film cooler when I travel for my fresh film. You can get one that plugs into your car, or use the cold packs instead of real ice. It will keep the moisture down. I don't think you'll find them that fragile. My Grandmother's negatives from 1900 on were stored in the farmhouse attic for years and they are fine. My Brother printed a bunch of them a few years ago with no problems.

winger
06-30-2013, 03:59 PM
Thanks all! I did some googling for ways to test and found that a flame test (only nitrate base negs will burn down from the top and they should have a bright yellow flame) is the only one I'd be able to do here. If I still worked at the lab, I'd be able to do the diphenylamine test (we used that all the time for several things anyway). Unfortunately, I doubt I could get the chemicals necessary now.
Once I figure out which are nitrate vs acetate, I think I will use the cooler idea. I had been thinking it was likely that all were nitrate, but now that I know that acetate was in use in the 20s, there's a good chance a bunch are that. Since he went for new things, he might have been likely to switch to acetate when it came out. Since very few look yellowed, it's tough to just guess. Only a very few have writing on the rebate as well. All are in single frame pieces and many look to have been cut slightly crooked. There is a huge variety of frame sizes and my dad has said that my great-grandfather tended to sell the last camera to buy the next newest, greatest one. The only ones of his that I have are a RB Auto-Graphlex and two Leicas. The largest negs looked like 4x5, but do not fit in 4x5 holders (even the old slotted ones). And none that I've seen so far have notch codes of any type (another way I'd be able to tell nitrate vs acetate). Was it possible he was cutting his own from larger sheets or were there film makers besides Kodak that weren't using notch codes?

If I did toss them, I'd likely burn them, not just dump them in the landfill for the reasons above.

Thanks again!

Prof_Pixel
06-30-2013, 04:42 PM
I'd scan all the negatives for archiving purposes and during the scanning process separate them into two piles: negatives worth printing and negatives not worth printing.

mgb74
06-30-2013, 04:48 PM
RE: cooler

As I understand, you don't want them in a sealed container, so I'd add some ventilation (a few 1/2" holes in the top) to that cooler.

Jim Noel
06-30-2013, 05:18 PM
No notch codes and too large for standard holder sounds like they are from a "film pack" which was a very popular method of loading film until after WWII. The film was actually the same base as roll film, thus thinner than cut film. It was also a little larger and required a different negative carrier for the enlarger.
Nitrate film will not have "Safety Film" encoded along the edge. Look through them. If any of the emulsions are beginning to bubble, I would burn them in a safe container. All others I would carry in a cooler as others have suggested. Although I know of no studies, I dare say that a large majority of problems with nitrate films happened in projectors, most of which used carbon arcs for light sources.

Gerald C Koch
06-30-2013, 05:38 PM
Nitrate film was last made around 1950 so your negatives are at least 60 years old. They have survived this long without any special care. I really wouldn't worry but would get them copied as soon as possible. I would suggest copy negatives rather than scanning them. This is based on all the bad scans that appear on APUG and other web sites .If the images are important to you I would recommend that you avail yourself of a professional conservator rather than doing the job yourself.

Prof_Pixel
06-30-2013, 06:39 PM
This is based on all the bad scans that appear on APUG and other web sites


There can be bad scans and there can be bad copy negatives. It all depends on the skill of the person doing the job. Pick your poison.

winger
06-30-2013, 07:39 PM
There can be bad scans and there can be bad copy negatives. It all depends on the skill of the person doing the job. Pick your poison.

And I do NOT have enough film to copy even the best of these. And have never copied film onto film so I'm fairly confident my scans will be better than what I'd do with film.

Until 2 years ago, these negs were who-knows-where in my grandmother's house. It's a 1832 brick house with no AC. I doubt it was ever below 70 degrees (the recommended high temp for temporary storage). The dates on the envelopes range from 1890 to 1940. None are yellowed much, none are bubbly in the least. According to one chart I saw, which had level 1 as no damage and level 5 as the worst, these are 1 or maybe near 2 (only some).

As far as contacting the historical society in the town where the family lived, I don't know how well that would work. It's a small town where the negs were and my parents brought them down here. I may contact the historical society after I'm done, but they have no resources to help me.

I tried to find a conservator and struck out. I also guess they'd charge a huge amount because of how many these are.

What format would have made an image 83mm by 140mm? Those frames were shot in 1912 and really look like they had been on a roll based on the crookedness of some ends (making the film about 90mm wide?) I think there's a roll film holder with the RB Auto-Graphlex?

Gerald C Koch
06-30-2013, 10:07 PM
If the negatives are a non-standard size for what is available today you might consider X-ray duplication film. Several people on APUG have mentioned using it and that the price is reasonable.

Shalom
06-30-2013, 11:01 PM
What format would have made an image 83mm by 140mm? Those frames were shot in 1912 and really look like they had been on a roll based on the crookedness of some ends (making the film about 90mm wide?) I think there's a roll film holder with the RB Auto-Graphlex?

That is 3A (postcard) format, which would have been shot on 122 rollfilm. 3A was 3.25" x 5.5" image size, which translates to 82.5mm by 139.7mm. The film stock is 91.75mm wide. Kodak discontinued that size in 1974, more or less, but there's gonna be more of it in September... (see this thread (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum172/116052-2013-ulf-manufacture-ilford-photo-harman-technology-limited.html)).

Whiteymorange
07-01-2013, 06:47 AM
Bethe,
What a treasure and what a pain! I would scan the nitrite negs (and then burn them) and pack the safety film in a cooler, as suggested. The cooler will simply maintain the temp within a certain range. As you say, they lasted this long with no special treatment. The cooler then becomes a portable file as well, keeping them together. If there is room, and you've weeded out the nitrite negs, you might put some of your own excellent negatives in with them- keeping the whole mess together for the move.

I guess New England has seen the last of ou for awhile, huh? We miss you. Good luck.
Whitey

winger
07-01-2013, 07:40 AM
I guess New England has seen the last of ou for awhile, huh? We miss you. Good luck.
Whitey
:( Though I really want to get back there, I don't know when it will happen. I'm a PSA member and the conference is in Maine this fall. If I'm lucky, I might make that. Otherwise, I'm hoping to get to the Cape some time so I can finally get some LF shots of the salt marsh behind my dad's cousin's house. If I'll be up that way, I'll give a holler first. (I need to buy a more transportable 4x5 than my Cambo, too.)
Thanks for the advice! I might be doing some burn tests this week to help sort. I still don't have a date for the move, but it's supposed to be in July. I only have 3 Nate-free daycare days left, too. I know I don't have time to scan ALL the nitrate negs, but I'm going to try to get as many as I can.
The ones from 1912 (thank you for the 3A info) are probably close to 100 by themselves. It was his honeymoon, I'd guess.

Tom1956
07-01-2013, 08:25 AM
Bethe,
What a treasure and what a pain! I would scan the nitrite negs (and then burn them) and pack the safety film in a cooler, as suggested. The cooler will simply maintain the temp within a certain range. As you say, they lasted this long with no special treatment. The cooler then becomes a portable file as well, keeping them together. If there is room, and you've weeded out the nitrite negs, you might put some of your own excellent negatives in with them- keeping the whole mess together for the move.

I guess New England has seen the last of ou for awhile, huh? We miss you. Good luck.
Whitey

Why would you burn them? They're not hurting anything.