Photographic Plates, Test Plates and Plate Holders

Astronomy

Accession Number: 2019.ast.255.1-11

Description:

This is a leather camera box containing a number of photographic plates, test plates, and plate holders.

2019.ast.255.1: The box is quite large, with a flap top, handle on top, click latch and buckle straps at the front, and an adjustable shoulder strap attached to both sides. The strap is made of black woven fabric; the rest of the construction is leather. There is a green moving company sticker stuck to the top of the box.

Inside, the box is divided into a number of components. On the left, there is a larger section. Inside here, there are a large number of photographic plates depicting eclipses (2019.ast.255.2). These are square and 16cm wide. Each depicts a corona of a different eclipse, dating from the 1870s-1900s. Each plate has information at the top, for example: “R.A.S. No. 147. Eclipse 1905. Aug 30 (20 sec.) Christie Sfax.” The plates are stacked inside two cardboard boxes and divided with squares of corrugated cardboard.

2019.ast.255.3: Also in the box, there are a number of smaller rectangular plates in paper envelopes. Two of these contain photographs of scientific equipment. The rest are plates showing shaded sections next to scales. Each of these is labelled with the letter “R” followed by a number, such as “R42”, “R65″ both on the exterior of the envelope and on the plate itself.

2019.ast.255.4: Stacked underneath these are five 3.25×4.25” speed “Premo Film Pack” packages of film sheets. Two of these are unopened; the others appear to have been opened. The contents of each package are wrapped in red wax paper. Each package is sealed with a sticker reading “This film must be developed before June 1920.”

In the smaller compartments of the box, there are some camera components, mostly plate holders.

2019.ast.255.5: This is a package of eight thin, flexible plate holders, wrapped in red wax paper and tied up in a package by cotton string.

2019.ast.255.6: This is a large box-like plate holder for 3.25 x 4.25″ plates made by Eastman Kodak. It consists of a flat frame with a sliding removable central plate. Pulling this up reveals a red circular transparent window, which allows light through. In the rear of this case, there is a vertical slit that goes through the depth of the box with the red window at its base. The rear of the box can be taken off, revealing a wooden rod attached to a gear on the top, and a second gear on the other side which, when the box is closed, can be turned by a key that fits through a hole in the box top. This box latches closed with a small metal strip with a holed bracket at the end that can be lifted and lowered to close over a small metal peg.

2019.ast.255.7: This is a rectangular plate holder for 3.25×4.25″ plates made by Thornton-Pickard and labelled “1” on one side and “2” on the other. Both sides have a sliding plate inserted into the outside; these are both hinged in two places with fabric. One of these has a raised section above the plate which enables easy removal of the rear sliding plate with the depression of a metal piece; one the one inserted into side “1”, this has been broken off. There are two folding latches on either side, opening these allows the holder to be opened up on hinges on the base, revealing the metal plate onto which a photographic plate can be placed. This is also hinged so both sides of this metal plate can be accessed.

2019.ast.255.8: This is a rectangular plate holder for 3.25×4.25″ plates made by Thornton-Pickard and labelled “5” on one side and “6” on the other. Both sides have a sliding plate inserted into the outside; these are both hinged in two places with fabric. Both of these have a raised section above the plate which enables easy removal of the rear sliding plate with the depression of a metal piece. There are two folding latches on either side, opening these allows the holder to be opened up on hinges on the base, revealing the metal plate onto which a photographic plate can be placed. This is also hinged so both sides of this metal plate can be accessed.

2019.ast.255.9: This is a rectangular plate holder made of wood, and designed for 3.25×4.25″ plates. The case is 2cm deep. On the rear, there is a wood frame into which a wooden plate is slid; this is hinged in two places across its width by fabric hinges. Removing reveals another slot into which a glass photographic plate has been inserted–the surface of this plate is pale yellow-green. On the rear of this holder, there is a rectangular window covered in orange plastic, which looks into the box of the plate holder behind the plate. Latches on either side of the holder enable the holder to be opened on hinges at the base of the holder. This reveals the smaller removable plate holder into which the plate has been inserted. The plate is covered with a piece of black fabric with a wooden slat at the bottom; this slat fits into a corresponding slot on the hinged sliding plate, so it is folded up to block the orange window when the rear of the plate is removed.

2019.ast.255.10: This is a plate holder for a 3.25×4.25″ photographic plates. It consists of a wooden frame with a recessed grey interior. On the rear of the case, there is an envelope opening consisting of black leather covered flaps; a small tab enables this to be pulled open. This reveals the rear of the grey interior; it is narrower than the full rectangle and has a “+” printed in the centre.

2019.ast.255.11: These are two rectangular pieces of cardboard covered on both sides with black velvet.

Primary Materials:

Leather, Glass, Cardboard, Paper, Wood, Plastic, Film, Textile: Cotton, Textile: Velvet.

Markings:

2019.ast.255.2: Printed on paper labels on each of the eclipse slides (for example): “R.A.S. No. 147. Eclipse 1905. Aug 30 (20 sec.) Christie Sfax.”

Written on the top of one of the boxes in black ink: “Nos. 44 to 48 Incl.” “Nos. 49 to 53 incl.”

2019.ast.255.3: Handwritten in pencil on the envelopes: “Sensitometer” “Microphotometer” and (for example) “R39”

2019.ast.255.4: Printed on each package: “31/4 x 41/4 SPEED
PREMO FILM PACK
For use in Premo Film Cameras or with an adapter in
Premo Plate Cameras and glass-plate cameras of other make.
Manufactured by CANADIAN KODAK CO., Limited, TORONTO, CANADA”

On a sticker sealing each package: “THIS FILM MUST BE DEVELOPED BY JUNE 1920”

Stamped on the rear of each package: “EMULSION NO. 8184”

2019.ast.255.6: On a label set into the box: “EASTMAN KODAK
PATENTED JAN. 23 89
NOV 12, 89
JULY 2, 01
MADE IN U.S.A.
ROCHESTER N.Y.”

Stamped into the leather: “31/4 X 41/4 VERTICAL”

2019.ast.255.7: On a label set into the wood: “THORNTON-PICKARD”

Stamped into the wood of the sliding plate #1: “136”, and #2 “135”

2019.ast.255.8: On a label set into the wood: “THORNTON-PICKARD”

Stamped into the wood of the sliding plate #5: “26”, and #6 “17”

2019.ast.255.9: Stamped into the wood of the sliding plate: “8004”

Dimensions (cm):

Box Only: Height = 23, Width = 20, Length = 35.

Function:

2019.ast.255.1: This is likely a camera case for a large late 19th century or early 20th-century camera.

2019.ast..255.2: These are slides produced for educational or research purposes.

2019.ast.255.3: These slides are likely to test plates for exposures or measurements, possibly those taken with the sensitometer and microphotometer pictured in the first two plates. They may relate to the Eclipse plates.

2019.ast.255.4: These are packages of film for a 3.25×4.25″ film camera. Some of these may be exposed, others may be unused.

2019.ast.255.5: These are plate protectors for 3.25×4.25″ photographic plates.

2019.ast.255.6-10: These are plate holders that can be inserted into or fixed onto the rear of a camera and enable the protection of the plate after it is loaded into the camera and prior to its exposure in taking a photograph. Some of these appear to have specialized purposes. Although these holders all take 3.25×4.25 plates, they are all of the different designs.

2019.ast.255.11: This may be a component of a plate holder, designed to stop light from reaching a photographic plate before it is ready to be exposed.

Condition:

2019.ast.255.1: Fair: The leather of the box is quite worn, particularly on edges and corners; one side of the strap holding the top handle in place has broken. Both buckles on either side of the box are worn and broken, with only small portions of the strap remaining. The shoulder strap is intact, but the leather sections are very worn and delicate.

2019.ast.255.2: Very Good: The boxes into which the slides are stacked are reused and in poor condition; however, the slides are in very good condition, with little sign of use and wear.

2019.ast.255.3: Very Good: The plates and envelopes are in very good condition.

2019.ast.255.4: Very Good: The Film packs are dirty over their surfaces and dented, but otherwise in very good condition. Some may be entirely unopened.

2019.ast.255.5: Good: The plate cases are in good condition. However, the red wax paper packaging is very worn, with a large number of tears, broken off sections and significant damage. The cotton string is in good condition, although slightly fraying at the ends.

2019.ast.255.6-10: Good: The plate holders are all in good condition. 2019.ast.255.7 has some damage in the form of a broken top of the sliding rear section. 2019.ast.255.8 is missing its round inset maker label (present on 2019.ast.255.7). 2019.ast.255.9 has a circular cutout below its orange window; this has some shiny residue in the base. There cracks on either side of the cutout, and also cracks in the orange window at the corners where it has been screwed onto the plastic behind it.

2019.ast.255.11: Poor: This is likely a component of a missing apparatus. The velvet is fraying around the edge where the pieces are attached to the cardboard.

Manufacturer:

Various: 2019.ast.255.4: Canadian Kodak Ltd., Toronto; 2019.ast.255.6: Eastman Kodak, Rochester, N.Y.; 2019.ast.255.7-8: Thornton-Pickard

Date of Manufacture: c. 1905-1920s?

Provenance:

Some of these items predate the David Dunlap Observatory; possibly the box was assembled at the Observatory at some point. It was kept at the David Dunlap Observatory until 2009. Upon the sale of the Observatory in that year, it was moved to the University of Toronto’s Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the St George Campus. In 2017 it was moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.