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Rare Nitrate Film Collection

Thomas Edison and Charles Urban are two of the creators of the following collection of rare, nitrate, film clippings. Hand colored, tinted, toned or stenciled, these beautiful 35mm film strips show tales of dragons, devils and maidens. Bizarre faces are captured well, each one with a story to tell.

In the early days of cinema, hand coloring films was the only way to achieve the atmosphere, directors wanted to put across in their films, that they couldn’t do with black and white. In relation to the 4 main techniques, either tiny utensils were used to paint the frames, the film was dipped into dye, or color was sponged in ink through special stencil masks. More than one technique could be used on the film strips.

Photo via 50 Watts

For instance the clipping above incorporates the tinting and stenciling techniques.

The beautiful and extensive collection was started by Italian film historian Davide Turconi. Since 2000, The Turconi Project has been in charge of archiving Turconi’s collection, and a few other private ones. It is an online database of 23,491 nitrate film clippings and is fantastic and free! The actual frames lay on display at the George Eastman House in Rochester.

Just to point out how special this collection is, nitrate film’s base nitrocellulose is highly flammable and quick to decompose. We hope these wonders of precision and fixtures of a past time inspire you and your own 35mm films!

This article was inspired by an article in 50 Watts.

written by soundfoodaround

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