Aug 21, 2013

Vintage Darkroom Equipment Up For Auction

Updated with more descriptions of equipment!

These are some of the pieces of equipment that were for sale. To recap, I went to Wisconsin to help a thoroughly delightful woman named Vera sell a large amount of darkroom equipment, at the request of her daughter-in-law, whom I met through the Found Slides, A Life Remembered adventure.

To see the original slides that started the whole saga, click HERE

To read the Found Slides, A Life Remembered story, click HERE

Found Slides, A Life Remembered will be published as a graphic novel next year!

Among the brochures and owners manuals I found, was a catalog from Eastman Kodak Stores, Inc, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin filled with photography and darkroom equipment. There's no date on the catalog, but I found a letter sent to Vera's late husband and dated 1960. This gave me a lot of insight into how much these devices cost, and what they were used for.

In no particular order, here they are, with my notes about each piece. If you are interested in any of these pieces, let me know.

Below: This is part of the workstation in one room of the darkroom area, and shows one of the enlargers, a couple of timers, a power unit, and other equipment. The square things hanging on the wall on the right are negative carriers. The negative would be sandwiched in the negative carrier and slid into the enlarger, where precisely timed and balanced light would expose the photo paper. 

Click each picture for a larger view

This is an amazing large format camera made by the Calumet Corporation, Chicago Illinois. 

This camera was capable of producing negatives as large as 8"x10", a huge size that would create incredibly precise, crystal clear photographs and transparencies that could be enlarged to huge sizes.

The Calumet could also control distortion when taking close-up pictures, and offered a great deal of flexibility to commercial and professional photographers.

Below are some scans from a 1968 Calumet product catalog:

Below left: another view of this very cool camera

Below left: A Kodak 10“ dust and static removal unit, model A2-K, used to prevent dust from clinging to the negatives during the exposure process. Dust on negatives end up looking like white snowballs on the finished picture, because the dust blocks the light and prevents the paper from being exposed in that area. Note the paintbrush attachment; the unit eliminates an electrical charge on negatives that would attract dust

Below right: A Simmon Chromega exposure timer and power supply unit, used to control the time the paper is exposed by the enlarger

Below left: A Lektra Laboratories electronic decade interval timer, model TM-8. This was used to make precise interval exposures, and would automatically shut off the darkroom safe when the enlarger was on, and cost $96.00 in 1960.

From the catalog:
"Provides 1,110 separate time intervals with laboratory accuracy. Reproducible control is easily reset in the dark, makes timer ideal for color work. Timing constant switch can be used to control printing room while light. Can be used in black and white printing to switch off safelight when enlarger light goes on. Range: .1 to 111 seconds in steps of .1 sec. Capacity: 1500 watts non-inductive A.C. Voltage: 115 volts, 50/60 cycles. Controls: push button n panel, built-in provision for remote control; foot switch receptacle bypass for easy dodging. 10 lbs, 12 x 5 1/2 x 5 1/2. AC Only, $96"

Below right: An RKS-brand halogen lamp power supply, model HT-2

Left: This is the head of one of the color enlargers, a Simmon Chromega D4 color enlarger. It's a very nice, heavy duty piece of equipment, that, coupled with the other devices, gives the user extremely precise control over the color exposures as the photos are made. 

There is a single nob for each color, and individual knobs show filter densities from 0 to 120. In 1960, the date I think this enlarger comes from, it cost $795, which would be $6,78.89 in 2012 dollars.

This is a Simmon Chromega D3 enlarger, the second of two enlargers in the darkroom. This one is not as elaborate as the bigger Chromega D4. 

For a lot of in depth information about both these enlargers, click HERE.

A large assortment of well maintained darkroom filters

Left: These three pictures are of a Macbeth Quantalog Photographic Analyzer, which was designed to analyze color negatives. The control panel above it with all the knobs is an external attenuator attachment, which, from the catalog, "provides four additional sets of memory circuits for indexing several standard negatives and/or exposure times."

And you complain about attaching your digital camera to your computer.

From the catalog: "Designed for on-easel analysis of color negatives. Two banks of attenuators makes it possible to index two different types of color negative criteria. Easily converted for use with transmission or reflection optical density measuring attachment. Photometer has on-off switch; attenuator selector switch; reference button for light source in optical attachments; linerity adjustment control; 4 apertures (3, 5, 7 and 10mm), aperture hood and two diffusers. Light-sensitive probe contains PM tube and color filter disk."

This is an Adams retouching machine, which could hold negatives up to 8"x10", and vibrates the negative to smooth out pencil or dyes strokes, leaving no visible marks. It will work today, no matter what film technology is used, and was considered an essential tool for retouching. It will work with all formats, with a little practice. it can be a fast and inexpensive solution compared to digital retouching.

Retouching photographs before the age of digital images was an art form unto itself, and required time, patience, a steady hand and a good eye. Machines like this made the process much easier. It sold for around $295, which would be around $2,328.07 in today's dollars. 

This is a Weston Photographic Analyzer, Model 877, which was sold in 1947. It is a densitometer that determines the exposure times for printing and making separation negatives, and based on my on-line research, some hobby photographers still use them today.

It cost $125 in 1951, which would make that $1,123.06 in today's dollars.

This beautiful piece of equipment was made by Macbeth, and is a Macbeth Quantalog color transmission densitometer, model TD-102. 

It looks like something you would see in a mid-sixties science fiction show, like Land of the Giants or Star Trek

A densitometer is a device that measures the degree of darkness (the optical density) of a photographic or semitransparent material or of a reflecting surface. The densitometer is basically a light source aimed at a photoelectric cell. It determines the density of a sample placed between the light source and the photoelectric cell from differences in the readings.

A transmission densitometer measures transparent materials, such as negatives, or film transparencies. To learn more about what they are used for, click HERE.

This piece of equipment sold for $845.00 in 1960, which would be an astounding seven thousand dollars in 2013 ($7,591.87, to be precise).

From the catalog: "Linear scale, smallest graduation 0.02 density units; mirror design of scale face eliminates parallax. Reads A.S.A diffuse transition density, visual and through color filters. 0-4-0 density units range +/- 0.02 density units accuracy; +/- 0.01 density units repeatability. Reads up to 6.0 without filters. Only two electronic controls and four individual controls. Turret-type filter assembly for easy insertion or removal from probe. Built-in upscale density reference available at flip of switch, permits speedy calibration without need for step wedge. Anti-fatigue light within probe further assures circuit stability. For regulated 115/230V 50/60 cycles, 60W. Operator can read center of sheet of film up to 22" in width. Stage center contains removable aperture disk to permit measurement of samples through various diameter apertures. 16 1/4 x 10 1/4 x 12", 24 lbs. Single unit with 1, 2 and 3mm apertures, dust cover and 0-4-0 calibrated step tablet."

This one is mine, a gift from Vera, and currently has an honored place in my studio. Of all the pieces I photographed, I liked this one the best.

This is a Macbeth Quantalog reflection densitometer, model RD-219, used for measuring the color and visual densities of materials. It came with a cover, and the original instruction booklet, complete with an attached document indicating the unit was tested and calibrated by someone named Jeanette Child (she hand-signed the document). 

The Macbeth Corporation was based in Newburgh, New York. I haven't been able to dig up much information about this company, but it's a safe bet they're no longer in business.

There were a lot of spare bulbs for all the cameras and equipment... well as some enlarging easels

Thomas Duplex Safelight

A nifty hanging darkroom light, with two bulbs to throw out a good amount of red light. Trap doors on the top open to allow replacement of bulbs, and would make a pretty cool decorative light for a living room, or den. Here's the catalog description:

"Designed around specially manufactured quartz sodium-vapor discharge tube, floods entire darkroom with brilliant, soft orange-yellow light...Adjustable louvers contain additional filters..."

A Bell & Gosset Oil-less air compressor, which has been covered, and is dust-free and looks brand new. It is very heavy, and heavy-duty. From the catalog:

"For removal of dust from negatives or transparencies before printing; for periodic cleaning of equipment, particularly printers; for supplying gaseous agitations in rack and tank processors and sinks. Provides oil-free air for burst agitation, eliminating cost of Nittogen in all except developer stage; for quick-drying of film on continuous processing equipment; for airbrush work.

Below: This elaborate unit is an Arkay semi-automatic processing station, in essence an elaborate stainless steel deep sink which allows the photographer to precisely control the temperature of the processing, as well as the agitation, which used nitrogen, an inert gas. Tanks of nitrogen would agitate the chemical washes over the films and photographic papers, and a gas timer controls the nitrogen bursts that agitate the developing chemicals. This was about as precise as you could get back in the day. The catalog description is below.

Vera's husband had to remove a wall to get the unit into the basement, and the wall will have to be removed to get it out, which Vera tells me is not a big deal, as it was a thin wall built just to make the dark room.

Left: a close-up of the controls on the processing station. Back in 1960 a unit like this would have set you back around $3,000, which would be $23,437 in today's money.

This was a serious investment by a man serious about his photography. Below, close-ups of the gas-burst timers that controlled the nitrogen during the agitation process.

Here's the catalog description: "Provides the professional photographer with exacting temperature controls, uniform agitation of developing chemicals and consistent results. It will handle every commercial processing material - color papers, roll or sheet film - with precise control. The water jacket design and versatile tank arrangement keep the unit from ever becoming obsolete. The master water jacket housing...consists of two water jackets for holding insert tanks a d a special compartment for the wash tanks. The burst is built into the basket, moves with it, bursting only the chemical tank being used. A timer accurately controls the present duration of gas burst into the tank as well as the intervals between bursts. The unit can also be set up for continuous gas flow. The timing range is from 1/10 to 6 sec. for length of burst, 1 to 60 sec. for "off". Chemicals cannot back up into burst distributor. Gauges indicate temperature of incoming water and water in jacket. Additional features include Vacuumatic Breakers to prevent solution contamination, Auto-Resetting Timers for 3 different processing steps, Water Wash Temperature Gauge and Regulator, Spray Attachment,  Vacuum drain Valve to empty tank in less than 1 min., Siphon Outlet, and much more. Unit is 71" long, 35" wide, 33" high."

Below: the baskets that hold the prints, and negative reels that come with the processing station

This is a Kodak Ektamatic Processor, and it is my understanding that the chemicals it requires are no longer available. Below is a promotional postcard I found promoting this piece of equipment.

A Kodak Rapid Color Processor Model 11. In 1963, Kodak introduced a new print process that was about as fast as B&W processing. It achieved the speed by taking place at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The chemicals were one-shot, so using a small amount of them was important. The RCP11 was a horizontally rotating stainless steel drum that you filled with 100 degree water. It was textured on its outer surface so it would pick up chemicals from a tray underneath, and wet a print placed face-down on the top of the drum. To change chemicals, you’d tilt the tray and dump the old chemical in the sink, and then you’d pour in the new one. Washing was done by spraying water over the top of the was necessary. It will only handle 8x10 prints and the special chemistry is no longer available.

Some studio flood lights

A Lectra Laboratories electronic interval timer, model TM-5R

A seal press for laminating and crafts. These devices are incredibly handy for artists and crafts people, and this one is built like a tank. It will last forever, and comes with the owners manuals, and the sales brochures

This is a smaller version of the seal press above

Some assorted photo flood lights that were designed to be attached to a camera

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