Kodak Black & White Printing Paper, Films and Chemistry - by Michael Talbert

Apart from the following notes relating to early Kodak black & white products, Michael Talbert has also provided a considerable amount of historical information on the early Kodak & Agfa colour printing processes. Some early Agfa black & white paper packaging (plus others) can be seen here. My thanks to Jack Milne in Australia for directing me to this site.


  1. Kodak’s Black & White printing papers, grading and nomenclature, pre & post 1947.
  2. Velox Contact Printing paper
    Velox Developer
  3. Bromide & Bromesko Enlarging paper
    Libra paper
    Bromide Royal
    Soft Grade 1 and Extra Soft Grade 0 of Kodak Bromide Paper
    Bromide Transferotype
    Kodak Bromide Finisher Paper

  4. Royal Bromesko Enlarging paper
  5. Specialist Materials
    Kodagraph Ortho Film KO5 and Kodak Reproduction Film 2566
    Blue Brand Medical X-Ray Film
  1. Kodak Fine Grain Positive Film (as manufactured in the UK from the mid-1930s)
    Positive Film: History, Use & Chronology

  2. Film Introduction Dates
    Film Speed 'Safety Factor' in the 1930s (until mid-1960)
    Plus-X Sheet and Roll film
    Tri-Acetate to Estar Thick Base for Black & White Sheet Films in the UK

    Professional Plus-X and Tri-X films in packs of 10; 35mm Tri-X 10 Packs (6 packs from 1967)
    Super-XX Sheet Film in the UK

    Super-XX and Panatomic-X sheet films
    Verichrome, Plus-X Pan Professional and Tri-X Pan Roll Films
    220 size Tri-X

    Super Panchro-Press Sheet Film
  3. Miscellaneous Instruction Leaflets as downloadable pdf files
    Kodak D-163 Developer
    More Kodak Black and White Developer Chemicals

The images immediately below have been sent by Emmett Francois in Vermont, USA. They are scans from the January 1905 edition (Vol.VIII, No.1) of 'Camera & Darkroom Magazine', published monthly by The American Photographic Publishing Co; 361 Broadway, New York. The first image, left below, is the cover. The other three images are Eastman Kodak adverts which appeared in this edition.

Kodak Black & White printing paper, pre & post 1947

In the early 1970s Michael Talbert had worked as a black and white/colour printer/general studio assistant for a photographer who had used Kodak bromide papers since around the time of the 1947 paper codes changeover. He had a bookcase full of old Kodak paper boxes in which he stored his negatives, some of which had both codes printed on the labels. That’s what got him interested in the old codes for paper, and he decided to find out more.

Kodak VELOX paper was a very slow printing paper, producing a blue-black image, suitable for contact printing only, where the negative is placed in contact with the paper to produce a print of the same size. Kodak discontinued the manufacture of Velox paper in 1968. By way of example of its coding names, before & after 1947: Velox WVL 3 S = White Velvet Lustre, Hard, Single weight. Pre 1947: V V 3 = Velox Velvet Vigorous, single weight.

Kodak BROMIDE, BROMESKO and ROYAL BROMESKO papers were fast enlarging papers, suitable for use with any type of black and white enlarger. They could also be used for contact printing.
Bromide paper gave a neutral black image.

Bromesko produced a warm-black image. Its first mention is in the British Journal Of Photography Almanac for 1938, within the Kodak Adverts. About 1940 it was available in 6 surfaces, and by 1947, when Kodak changed their coding system (see below), it was available in Glossy, Velvet, Matt, Rough Lustre, and Fine Lustre. Later there was a Cream base, coded CFL 3D; a brownish red colour base, like a sepia toned print. The paper was also made on White and Ivory (a yellowish white) bases.
Both Bromide and Bromesko papers were replaced by other enlarging papers, some with resin-coated bases, by 1982.
Christophe Dorney emailed (March 2015) to let me know that in the UK (and now EU) the Bromesko trademark was file registered, by Kodak, on 11th June 1936 (serial no. 572853).

Kodesko is another paper Michael Talbert has found reference to. It was a warm toned paper manufactured by Kodak in the 1930s, before Bromesko. It was unusual in that it had a parchment-like quality and was semi-translucent. The 1933 Kodak Professional Catalogue states that prints could be mounted onto a light coloured backing paper. When the print was held over a light, it “glowed”, taking on the tones of the backing paper. Maybe that is where the name Bromesko originated.

Royal Bromesko paper was introduced in 1962 and discontinued in the late 1970s. It was an enlarging paper giving a warmer image tone by direct development in Kodak D-163 developer than Bromesko paper processed in the same developer. For maximum warmth, Kodak “Royal Bromesko” developer produced an almost brown and white image on Royal Bromesko paper. It had a slightly lower printing speed than Kodak Bromide or Bromesko papers. It could be handled under a Wratten Safelight filter Series OB.

VELOX, BROMIDE and BROMESKO; Naming & Grading

Prior to 1947, Kodak’s grading system and paper nomenclature were a complete muddle !
The grades for Velox and Bromide were different. The naming system and grades for Bromesko were different to that of Velox and Bromide. And at that time smaller packets of paper were sold by weight, not quantity.
12 sheets of quarter plate was roughly the same as 7 sheets of half plate. Larger sizes and boxes were sold in dozens and half-dozens.

By way of example of coding names, before & after 1947: Bromesko CFL 2 D = Cream Fine Lustre, Normal, Double weight. Pre-1947: 47 Z = Cream Lustre, Medium, Double weight.
Bromide WSM 1 S = White Smooth Matt, Soft, Single weight. Pre-1947: BBS 1 = Crayon Black, Soft, Single weight (BBS 1 = Bromide Black Smooth, 1 = soft grade). White Smooth Matt was a completely smooth dead matt paper and Crayon Black was the nearest pre-1947 equivalent surface.

NIKKO is an early trade name for Kodak Glossy Bromide paper (in the U.K). It is uncertain when the name Nikko dates from, but it is listed under Bromide papers in a Kodak 1923 catalogue. It is believed the name is pre-WW1, if not earlier. For example; Nikko BG2 = Bromide Glossy Grade 2 (medium) single weight.

Contrast Grades for Kodak Bromide papers, early 1940s (as far as Michael Talbert can establish) were:
Soft = Grade 1
Medium = Grade 2
Contrast = Grade 4
Extra Contrast = Grade 5. This Grade 5 was used for negatives which were very soft, or grossly underexposed.
Grade 3 = “Vigorous”, was only made in “Velox” paper at that time and Kodak Bromesko paper had a different grading system.

Contrast Grades after 1947. Kodak changed their coding system relating to paper grades, types of paper surfaces, for Bromide, Bromesko, and Velox papers in 1947. Nikko BG2 then became Bromide WSG 2S = White, Smooth ,Glossy, 2 (Normal Grade), Singleweight. The new coding system for Bromide, Bromesko and Velox papers stated Tint, Texture, Surface, Contrast Grade No. and Weight, in that order.

Extra Soft = Grade 0; Only made in Velox Paper at this time.
Soft = Grade 1
Normal = Grade 2
Hard = Grade 3
Extra Hard = Grade 4; Only made in Velox and Bromide paper at this time.
Much later these grades were joined by an “Ultra Hard” Grade 5 and a “Special” Grade. Special Grade had a contrast between “Soft” and “Normal” and was made in glossy paper only. The code for Bromide Glossy paper was WSG 1SpecialS or WSG 1SpecialD (single weight and double weight, respectively).

In 1948-9 paper packing quantities were standardized to 10s, 25s, 50s and 100s (rather than by weight or in dozens or half-dozens of sheets) and Kodak changed their system so that all surfaces and grades matched for Bromesko, Bromide and Velox papers. The coding system was e.g. Bromide, White Velvet Lustre, Normal Double Weight, WVL 2D. The pre-1947 code was BV 2Z, Bromide Velvet Medium Double Weight (the letter Z was used to indicate Double Weight).


Introduced in 1962 (discontinued in the late 1970s) with “Smooth Lustre” and “Fine Pearl” surfaces with a choice of a white or ivory base in double weight only

Types of Royal Bromesko Paper from 1962.
In the UK, Kodak Royal Bromesko Paper was introduced in 1962 as a printing paper similar to Bromesko but having a warmer (browner) image tone with a slightly lower printing speed.

In July 1962, the paper was initially sold as a “Special Order” item, and the minimum order accepted was for 1000 square feet in area of any one contrast grade and size.
White Smooth Lustre (WSL) and Ivory Smooth Lustre (ISL) papers were available in double weight only in Soft (1), Normal (2), and Hard (3) contrast grades.

White Fine Pearl (WFP) and Ivory Fine Pearl (IFP) surfaces additionally became obtainable during 1962 to ’63, and the paper was no longer sold as “Special Order”. Sizes and quantities were listed in the UK Kodak Professional Catalogue for 1963 in the Bromesko paper section, from 3½ x 4½ inches to 16 x 20 inches, 10, 25 and 100 sheet packs, in the three contrast graded noted above in Double Weight base.

By way of a coding example: Ivory Fine Pearl, Normal, Double Weight, would be coded: IFP 2D.

Fine Pearl was a new surface in 1962. It had a matt surface with an extremely fine grain. Kodak recommended this surface as a good choice if much retouching had to be done to the print, as in portraits.

Ivory Smooth Lustre surface (ISL) was initially introduced in the late 1950s as a Bromesko paper. In 1959 it was for sale in mainly continental sizes.
By 1961 it was for sale in as many as 5 contrast grades, from Grade 1=Soft, to Grade 5=Ultra Hard, in certain sizes, along with a White Smooth Lustre paper, WSL. Smooth Lustre surface was free from any base texture and had a surface with slightly less shine than an unglazed glossy print. Fine detail reproduced very well.

Another surface listed under “Bromesko” paper in the early 1960s was White Fine Low Lustre. The author believes this surface was very similar or identical to Fine Pearl. Both surfaces are listed for sale in the “Kodak Professional Catalogue” for July 1964, Low Lustre as a Bromesko paper, Fine Pearl as a Royal Bromesko paper. A list of Kodak black and white printing papers dated October 1965, however, does not mention the Low Lustre paper.

Royal Bromesko surfaces added in 1965.
White Smooth Glossy, coded WSG; White Fine Lustre, coded WFL.
Available in Grade 1, Soft; Grade 2, Normal and Grade 3, Hard. White Smooth Glossy, was also available in Grade 4, Extra Hard.
All in Double Weight base only.
By way of a coding example: White Smooth Glossy, Extra Hard, Double Weight. Would be code: WSG 4D

By 1969 the Smooth Glossy and Fine Lustre surfaces had been discontinued along with the Ivory Smooth Lustre surface. A year or so later the Ivory Fine Pearl surface was no longer made leaving White Fine Pearl, WFP and White Smooth Lustre, WSL in Soft, Normal and Hard grades. Manufacture of Royal Bromesko paper was discontinued in the late 1970s.

The author purchased a box of Royal Bromesko paper, 6½"x8½", 100 sheets, in White Smooth Lustre surface, Grade 3, in 1968. (WSL 3D). The difference in image tone between Royal Bromesko and Bromesko papers was very noticeable, even when processed in the standard Kodak paper developer, D-163. The author found, when comparing prints for contrast and density, that the visual contrast decreased on Royal Bromesko because of the colour of the image compared to a similar print made from the same negative on Kodak Bromide paper. The blacks of the print turned brown-black and mid tones a light brown. He found Royal Bromesko paper difficult to use, and many people preferred a “good black” as reproduced on a Bromide print to a rather insipid brown black on a Royal Bromesko print.

Kodak Royal Bromesko Developer was obtainable in liquid form, to be diluted one part developer to nine parts water, to make a working solution for use with Royal Bromesko paper. Also, in powder form, Kodak “Warm Tone Developer” was available in the 1960s, the stock solution to be diluted one part developer to one part water for a medium warmth of tone.

Warm tones on Ilford “Clorona” paper were popular in the 1930s. The Ilford Manual for 1935 gives two print developers, ID-23 and ID-24, suitable for producing warm-black to sepia to red tones on Clorona paper. The Ilford Manual stated that Clorona paper required a negative of “Fair contrast” when brown-sepia to red tones were desired. As the tone of the print changed from brown-black to sepia, and finally to red, the visual contrast decreased, so that a negative of fairly high contrast usually gave the best results. This is exactly what the author found when using Royal Bromesko paper.

Velox Paper

Kodak VELOX paper was a very slow 'Development' printing paper, producing a blue-black image, suitable for contact printing only, where the negative is placed in contact with the paper to produce a print of the same size. The negative to be printed was placed on top of the emulsion side of the paper and in contact with it. Special contact printing frames were made which held the negative and paper in close contact under a piece of glass. The exposure was made by holding the printing frame up to a bright tungsten light, or daylight, for a few seconds. The paper was then developed, fixed and washed to produce a contact print with a slightly bluish black image.

Velox Paper was first manufactured by Dr. L. H. Baekeland in 1894. It was a slow, silver chloride paper which could be handled before exposure even under weak electric light or yellow gaslight. In a photographic darkroom it could be handled under a bright yellow safelight. It later became known as “Gaslight” or “Contact “ paper. In 1899 George Eastman of the Kodak company bought the Velox process from Dr.Baekeland, and started to manufacture Velox paper in the U.S.A.

Prior to 'Development' paper, contact printing was carried out using paper that darkened naturally when left exposed to daylight. Originally known as 'Albumen' printing paper, it became commonly known as Printing Out Paper or P.O.P
P.O.P was coated with Albumen, which was mixed with ammonium chloride and silver nitrate. It was manufactured from approximately the 1850s until the appearance of the “Development“ papers (e.g. Velox) in the 1890s. A description of Albumen paper was first published in 1850 by Louis-Desire Blanquart-Everard.

The paper was exposed to daylight via a glass negative plate, the two being held in close contact within a contact printing frame, as already described above. Upper-most within the wooden contacting printing frame would be the frame's glass and beneath that was placed the glass negative plate. A sheet of Albumen paper, emulsion side in contact with the glass plate, came at the bottom of the frame and finally the wooden back of the printing frame was attached to hold the paper and negative plate firmly in contact under spring pressure. In the middle of the wooden back would be a hinge, so that part of the back could be opened to look at the image appearing on the P.O.P. without disturbing or releasing the pressure on the other part. Thus, if the image was still too light, the lifted half of the back could be hinged down again and the exposure continued without any risk of having disturbed the registration between the paper and the negative.

Unlike 'development' Contact paper, which was exposed only briefly to bright tungsten light or daylight, the printing frame with P.O.P was placed on a window sill facing the sun, or in strong daylight, for a significant length of time. Every quarter of an hour, or less in bright sunlight, the back of the frame was opened to check on the density of the image on the Albumen paper. When the print was judged to have the correct density, the paper was removed from the frame and placed in a bath of plain “Hypo” ("Fixing") solution. "Hypo" is an old fashioned term for Sodium Thiosulphate (Na2S2O3), originally known as sodium hyposulphate. In this bath of “Hypo” the silver that had not been exposed to daylight and therefore had not turned grey or black during the exposure, were chemically converted into soluble silver salts that could be washed out of the paper (hence, "fixing" the image). During this "Fixing” process, the print usually became lighter in tone and so most pictures were exposed until slightly too dark, before being taken out of the printing frame and being placed in the Hypo.

After the paper was washed for half an hour to an hour, most prints were then toned in “Sepia Toner”, which gave a rich brown colour to the image and also made the image even more permanent. Sometimes the toning process was done before fixing. Contact Printing with Velox paper was much faster, more reliable, and the extra toning procedure was not required.

Despite the arrival into the market of many types of Bromide, Contact, and Chloro-bromide "development" papers, P.O.P remained on the market until the mid 1950s. One of the last was Kodak “Solio”, a glossy single weight paper which gave tones from purple to red. The paper could also be “gold toned”, in a bath of gold-sulphocyanide, and then fixed in a plain Hypo bath (Ref: “Kodak Papers”, booklet, 1949).


This very early packet of Velox paper is likely to have been manufactured by either “The Nepera Chemical Company” or by “Eastman Kodak Company” of Rochester, New York.

The Nepera Chemical Company was established by Leo Baekeland and Leonardi Jacobi in 1893 in Nepera Park, Yonkers, New York, for manufacturing Velox Paper. Velox Paper was one of the first photographic papers to require a chemical solution, (developer), to produce an image on the paper.

In 1899, Leo Baekeland met George Eastman, founder of the “Kodak” company, who paid him $1M for the Velox paper process. From then on, the Eastman Kodak Company, and later, Kodak Limited London, manufactured Velox Paper.

In the case of this packet, it is difficult to ascertain as to whether the paper was manufactured by the Nepera Chemical Company or the Eastman Kodak Company as both names appear on the packet. It may have been produced at the Nepera Chemical Company a few months after the Eastman Kodak takeover, possibly around 1899 to 1900.

The paper could be handled and worked in a yellow light, similar to the colour given by 'Towns Gas' burnt in gas mantles i.e. the “Gaslight” of the time. At that time, early 1900s, there was no Safe light filter made specially for Velox paper, though by the 1920s Kodak were producing a “Wratten Series 00, a clear yellow, for slow lantern plates and gaslight papers”. (Ref: Kodak Professional Catalogue, 1923.)

There were no Contrast Grades, such as Hard, Normal, Soft etc., although the “Glossy Velox” sealing label states “Enameled for contrasty effects”.

The green sealing label also states on the underside that “You should use no other developers that those described in the enclosed directions.” It also warns the user about lack of Bromide in the developer and oxidized developer giving greenish or brownish blacks in the print.


This second packet of Velox Paper is likely to be of later manufacture. It clearly states that it is now being made by Kodak in London, which tells us it is very probable that by this time Kodak had set up a production line for Velox paper in the U.K. It is strange that the ”Nepera Chemical“ Company’s trade mark is still being stamped on the packet ! The price was 1s.3d, (=6 newpence) for 18 sheets. By 1923, the price had been held, but the paper was now sold in packets of 17 sheets for 1s (1 shilling=5 newpence).

Although the sealing label is missing, the packet contains paper of a “Velvet” surface, termed in those days as “Art”, or “Semi-Matt”. There is no back printing on the paper.

On the left hand side of the label on both packets it states “500 times quicker than Albumen”, signifying how much shorter an exposure to light this 'development' paper required compared to the former Printing Out Paper (5seconds x 500 = 40minutes !)

Kodak made a Safelight filter specially for Velox paper, the Wratten Series OO. It was bright yellow, so much too bright for Kodak Bromide papers. Kodak Bromide papers were about 100 times faster than Velox paper and, although Bromide paper could be used for contact printing, Velox paper was useless for making enlargements (the exposure to enlarger illumination would have being too long). However, in the 1950s, certain types of Velox paper were manufactured specifically for making En-prints using enlarging equipment, such as “Projection Velox paper”, but the speed of the paper never matched Bromide paper.

Kodak Limited, London were still making Velox paper for contact printing in small sizes until the late 1960s. It was finally discontinued in 1968.


Four packets of Velox paper dating from the 1920s.
By the early 1920s Velox paper was being sold in two contrast grades. Taken from Velox paper instruction sheet, dated 1922.

  1. VIGOROUS - for use with negatives of weak contrast.
    Paper types: Art (vigorous) semi-matt surface; Carbon (vigorous) smooth matt surface; Glossy (vigorous).
  2. SOFT :- for use with negatives of average or strong contrast.
    Paper types: Art (soft) semi matt surface; Carbon (soft) smooth matt surface; Glossy (soft).

In the early 1920s a “Special” grade was available for Normal or Contrasty negatives. In 1923 it was sold as “Special Portrait”, a smooth matt surface.
There was also a paper at that time known as “Royal Velox”. This had a Cream coloured base (almost sepia), and a smooth surface, possibly close to a semi-matt, and was only available in double weight thickness.
(Reference: Kodak Professional Photographic Apparatus and Materials Catalogue, 1923)

The 1933 equivalent catalogue no longer lists “Special Portrait” or “Royal Velox” papers.


By 1926 an additional grade of “MEDIUM” was available and a Velox paper instruction sheet for 1926 suggests the medium grade was recommended for negatives of average contrast. “SOFT” grade paper was now recommended for negatives of strong contrast. In 1926, MEDIUM grade was available in Art and Glossy surfaces.

Alongside are shown three packets of Velox paper dating from the 1920s showing the “new” Medium grade in Glossy and also the back labels of the Semi-Matt surface paper; one of Medium grade (for "average negatives") and one in Vigorous grade (for "flat negatives").


By the 1930s, codes for the various surfaces and grade numbers had appeared.
The oldest packet in this picture is VG-2 = Velox Glossy, (grade) 2. This packet dates from the 1930s.

VG-3 dates from the late 1930s or possibly the 1940s. VG-1 dates from the 1940s.

VG-1 = Soft contrast.
VG-2 = Medium contrast.
VG-3 = Vigorous contrast.

They are all single weight paper. The double weight code would be e.g. VG-2Z = Velox Glossy, (grade) 2, double weight.

Another grade is listed in the 1933 Kodak Professional Photographic Apparatus and Materials catalogue. Known as “Contrast”, this grade was recommended “for very flat, lifeless negatives”.
It was available in Art, Glossy and Carbon surfaces and a code e.g. for the Glossy paper would have been VG-4.

In 1933, 17 sheets of Velox single weight paper , as the two packets in the picture, would have cost one shilling (5p).
The VG-1 box of 144 sheets of 3½ x 2½ inch paper, would have cost 4 shillings and 5 pence (approximately 22p).
The exact equivalent paper to this box, but in a later style yellow packet, is shown at the bottom of this Velox section, coded Velox WSG 1S.

Velox Developer

In the picture above there is a small packet of “Velox” developer which contains two components – a blue packet and a white packet. To make up the developer the instructions state to shake the contents of the blue packet into 4 ounces of cold water. When dissolved, add the contents of the white packet.
Additional instructions state: “For soft or special Velox, dissolve as described above but use 8 ounces of water. Use at 65°F.”

A “Velox” paper instruction sheet from 1922, which was enclosed in every packet of paper, suggests the use of Velox developer, either by making up the formula from raw chemicals, or by obtaining the Kodak “made–up” chemicals. The Kodak 1923 catalogue lists Velox developer in liquid or powder form.

“Velox Concentrated Developer” is priced at 5 shillings (25p) per gallon for the liquid form, and a packet to make up 1 gallon from powder is the same price. A ½ gallon size to be made up from powder was 2 shillings and 9 pence (14p).

Both the liquid developer and the powder developer when made up, had to be further diluted with two to four times their volume to make the working developer solution. It is odd that three instruction sheets for Velox paper, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, give no times of development for Velox paper.

“How to make good pictures”, a Kodak book published in 1927, suggests 25 to 30 seconds for Medium and Vigorous grades of Velox paper, and 40 to 50 seconds for Soft and Special grades of Velox paper.

In 1969 the author developed Kodak Bromide paper in Velox powder developer. The developer gave the Bromide prints a slightly colder tone, tending towards a bluish black compared with a normal recommended Bromide paper developer, such as (in those days), Kodak D-163 developer (see below). The instruction sheet, dated 1961, from the tin of Velox developer that the author used, suggested 1 minute development time for Bromide papers at 68°F, and 40 to 90 seconds for Velox paper at the same temperature. The developer was made up as a stock solution to be diluted 1 : 1 with water to make a working solution..

The Kodak formula for D-158 is almost identical to the packaged version of Velox developer.

As far as Michael Talbert can ascertain, Velox developer was manufactured by Kodak (in the U.K.) up to 1969. A Kodak Professional and Graphic Arts catalogue for November 1969 lists “Kodak Velox Developer Powder” to make 80 fluid ounces at 5 shillings (25p). The developer is not listed in a Kodak (U.K.) Products price list for September 1970.


Packets of VV-3 Velox Velvet (Grade) 3 Vigorous and VG-3 Velox Glossy (Grade) 3 Vigorous.

The left hand packet of VV-3 dates from the 1940s, with “Kodak” printed in red. The right hand packet is slightly older and gives a good example of the paper being sold by weight, hence resulting in the odd quantity of 17 sheets in the packet !

”Velvet” had a slight surface texture with a very slight gloss finish. The “vigorous” grade was for printing with soft, low contrast negatives.

The “Velox” coding system before 1947 is believed to have been similar to the Kodak Bromide paper codes.

By 1947, VV-3 became known as “Velox, White, Velvet, Lustre, 3 (hard grade) single weight”. Code: WVL 3 S
VG-3 became known as ”Velox, White, Smooth, Glossy, 3 (hard grade) single weight”. Code: WSG 3 S.

It is not known if the “Vigorous” Grade (pre-1947) was the same as the contrast of the new “Hard” Grade (post-1947).

By way of example of its coding names, before & after 1947: Velox WVL 3 S = White Velvet Lustre, Hard, Single weight. Pre 1947: V V 3 = Velox Velvet Vigorous, single weight.

The “Velvet” surface lasted until the early 1970s, and was then replaced by “White, Semi-Matt“. Code: WSemi-M.
White, Semi-Matt was available in Bromide, Bromesko and, at that time, the new Veribrom resin coated black and white papers. The two surfaces were not identical.

Velox WVL (Velvet), was replaced by “White, Smooth, Lustre, (WSL), in the late 1950s. “Smooth Lustre” surface was devoid of any texture and had a shiny appearance, much like an unglazed glossy print. The surface was very similar, but not identical to, the later Kodak “N” surface, mainly used for colour printing papers and known as “Lustre”.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Velox paper was also available in certain small continental sizes in “Cream Smooth Glossy (CSG), singleweight,” in as many as five contrast grades ranging from “Extra Soft”, (Grade 0) to “Ultra Hard”, (Grade 5). Oddly enough, the paper was not sold in Grade 4, “Extra Hard”.

WSL and CSG lasted, as best Michael knows, until 1963. Then only the “White, Smooth, Glossy“ surface remained until the manufacture of Velox paper ceased in 1968.

For a time after 1947, most Kodak Bromide, Bromesko, and Velox papers carried labels with both the new codes and the old codes relating to the various surfaces. The picture alongside shows a Velox label of this type.

Velox WSG 1.S = white smooth glossy (Grade) 1, Single Weight
Previously known as Velox Glossy SW Soft = VG 1.


Four boxes of Velox paper dating from the mid 1950s, showing four contrast grades from “Soft”, Grade 1, for high contrast negatives, to “Extra Hard”, Grade 4, for very soft negatives. The author used the Grade 4 paper, and remembers it gave acceptable prints from negatives which were so soft they were considered “unprintable”!

The small Grade 4 box (at the top of the stack of boxes, left) may be extremely rare, as the Kodak catalogue for 1956 shows no Grade 4, only 1,2 and 3 and the 1959 and 1960 professional catalogues show just grades 0,1,2,3 and 5.

Bromide and Bromesko

Quoting from the Introduction to Brian Coe's excellent book 'Kodak Cameras - The First Hundred Years':

"The Kodak presence in Britain had developed from the wholesale importing agency set up in 1885 (under William H.Walker). (This led to) .....the formation of the Eastman Photographic Materials Company in 1889, set up to manufacture and market (George) Eastman's products, (and) taking over the business and markets of the Company outside north and south America. At the factory at Harrow, then outside London, photographic film and paper were manufactured, and the developing and printing of customers' films was carried out".

The Kodak Limited was formed in November 1898 and acquired the business of Eastman Photographic Materials Company, Limited.
Interestingly, Kodak Limited still exists (May 2020). Gavin Ritchie tells me it is company number 59535, incorporated on 15th November 1898. Its original registered office was 43 Clerkenwell Road, London EC but by 6th June 1972 the registered office was Kodak House, Station Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. The present day registered office is Building 8, Croxley Green Business Park, Hatters Lane, Watford, Herts, WD18 8PX.

Michael Talbert has found an 8-page leaflet dating from the early 20th century (Michael estimates 1905-1910), not long after Kodak Limited had acquired the business of the Eastman Photographic Material Company. The first two pages of that leaflet are shown below (left). It contains information about Eastman's Royal Bromide and other papers, by then being sold under the Kodak, Limited name (it proclaims: Kodak, Limited, successors to Eastman Photographic Material Co; Ltd;, 43 Clerkenwell Road, London, E.C).

The picture above came into the possession of Peter Vaughan's father and now to Peter Vaughan. Peter has given permission for it to be displayed here.

(It is behind glass, so please excuse the reflections).

It was taken using a No.4 Cartridge Kodak using a wide angle lens
and "Enlarged upon Eastman's Royal Bromide paper".

The No.4 Cartridge Kodak was manufactured from 1897 to 1907 (Ref: Brian Coe)
It took a large roll film with a 5” x 4” format.

A label on the reverse of the above print (see left) tells us that the frame and contents are the property of Kodak, Limited,
successor to the Eastman Photographic Materials Co.Ltd;
"It is particularly requested that the exhibit be promptly returned to Kodak, Limited,
when required by them".

Seemingly, Kodak never asked for the print's return and it ended up in a chemist's shop owned by Peter Vaughan's father by the 1960s.

Another print on Kodak Royal Bromide paper, perhaps from a slightly later era to the picture above, right.
This one is owned by Gavin Ritchie and shows a scene believed to be from the Henley Regatta.
Henley Royal Regatta is a rowing event held annually on the River Thames by the town of Henley-on-Thames, England. It was established on 26th March 1839.

Kodak Bromide Paper BRW4-Z

The Kodak packet with “Kodak” printed in black (left hand side image) dates from approximately the mid-1930s.
BRW4-Z = Bromide Royal White, (Contrast Grade) 4, (Double Weight) Z.

The exact date when this particular type of paper was first manufactured is uncertain, however the Kodak Professional catalogue for 1923 lists the paper as “White, Royal, (rapid)”. The description is: “a thick rough surface paper suitable for broad effects in black and white.” It is not clear from the description in the catalogue if the paper was available in different grades of contrast at that time.

This illustration shows the backs of the packets shown above.

Kodak Bromide Paper BG-5

BG-5 = Bromide Glossy, (Grade) 5 = Extra contrast.

The packet illustrated is believed to date from the early 1940s. At that time, Kodak Glossy paper was known as “Nikko”. Glossy paper could be glazed on glass or metal, to give an almost “mirror like” surface.

In 1947, Nikko BG-5 became Bromide Paper, White Smooth Glossy, Extra Hard, Single Weight.
New code: WSG 4S.



Kodak Bromide Paper WSL 1.S

The two pictures (left) show a box of WSL 1S paper, White Smooth Lustre, Soft Grade, Single Weight, made by Kodak Ltd; UK. It was available in this form from 1947 to 1949. The surface may have been identical to a Bromide paper known as “Permanent Smooth” single weight, manufactured with this name at least since the 1930s.

In the UK Kodak Professional Catalogue for 1923 the paper was listed as “Permanent”, obtainable in “Rapid and Slow Smooth” and “Rapid Rough” surfaces and speeds.

By 1930, the paper was known as “Permanent Smooth”, described as a “rapid natural surface paper with a slight sheen, made in single weight only”.

At some time between 1943 and 1947 the paper was marketed as “Bromide Velvet Smooth”, as shown on the packet's rear label (see left; lower of the two) as “Previously known as:- Bromide Velvet Smooth, Soft BVS 1"

The name of the paper changed again in 1947 to “White Smooth Lustre” obtainable in single weight only. The paper was also marketed from 1947 as "Bromide Royal White Smooth Lustre” (WSL) in double weight only plus two more paper base tints, Ivory (ISL) and Cream (CSL), and there was an “Air Mail” version, “Bromide White Smooth Lustre, Light Weight”, made with an extra thin base to save on weight and the photographs could be folded without damage.

By 1949, the single weight version was no longer manufactured.

In 1951, the paper became known as “Bromide White Smooth Lustre”, the “Bromide Royal” series of papers and the Ivory and Cream base tints having been withdrawn.

“Bromide White Smooth Lustre” in double weight remained on the market until 1970 when replaced by “Bromide White Semi Matt” (WSemiM), a paper with an almost matt surface with a very slight sheen.

Velox paper was obtainable in “White Smooth Lustre” surface from 1959 to 1961, and Bromesko paper, “Ivory Smooth Lustre” (ISL) was manufactured in mainly continental sizes from 1958 to 1961. In 1962, the new “Royal Bromesko” paper was obtainable in “Smooth Lustre” surface in White and Ivory base tints (WSL and ISL).



Bromide Air Mail paper

A paper specially made for photographs to be sent by air mail was available with a “Smooth Lustre” surface as from 1947, coded WSL L. The bromide emulsion was coated onto an extra thin base. As far as is known, Kodak air mail photographic paper before 1947 had a gloss finish. The surface reverted back to gloss in the late 1960s.

Bromide Foil Card paper

Introduced about 1950, this paper was manufactured with a bromide emulsion coated onto a paper faced aluminium sheet. The purpose of the paper was for prints where critical measurements were to be taken directly from the prints as the paper did not stretch or shrink during processing and drying. It was used mainly for engineering detail drawings, maps, calculator scales, etc. The paper was made available in “White Smooth Lustre” in double weight. Manufacture ceased in the late 1960s, and a possible replacement for the paper was “Bromide High Resolution Waterproof”.

Contrast Grades

In 1923, “Permanent Rapid and Slow Smooth” were obtainable in “Medium and Contrast” grades, and “Rapid Rough” in medium grade only.

By 1930, the paper “Permanent Smooth”, was made in Soft, Medium, and Contrast grades.

In 1947, the grade names changed to Grade 1, Soft (no change), Grade 2 Normal (previously Medium), and Grade 3 Hard (previously Contrast), and the paper was obtainable in these three grades, single weight until 1949 and double weight until it was taken off the market.

Bromide Air-Mail and Foil Card were available in Soft, Normal and Hard grades, also the various Royal Bromesko and Bromesko (ISL) paper.

Velox was made with two additional grades, Grade 0, Extra Soft, and Grade 4, Extra Hard.


Kodak Bromesko 67 Z
Bromesko enlarging paper was introduced in 1938.

This label dates from the mid-1940s and shows the code for “Bromesko Cream Lustre”, tint and surface, contrast grade in Double Weight (Z).

In 1947, “Cream Lustre” became “Cream Fine Lustre” and “Contrast” became Grade 3 Hard, Double Weight. The new coding after 1947 was CFL 3D.


Kodak Bromesko CFL 1.D
This is a packet of Bromesko enlarging paper of similar "Cream Fine Lustre" as above, but with a post-1947 label.

The label shows the new code for Grade 1 (Soft).
It also shows the old code: Bromesko 27Z, Cream Lustre Soft Double Weight (DW).

The pre-1947 code for “Medium” Grade was Bromesko 47Z.
“Medium” became known as “Normal” after 1947, and had the new code of CFL 2D.


Kodak Bromide enlarging paper BRTF - 1 Z
A bromide paper label dating from the 1940s. Bromide Royal Tinted Fine (grain) – Soft (1) Double Weight (Z).

The base of the paper was a yellowish brown, and gave the impression of a sepia toned print. “Tinted” and “Cream” had almost the same coloured base, although the “Cream” was slightly more red. The “Tinted” base was only suitable for certain subjects, such as photographs taken under interior room lighting, sunsets, portraiture. Cream base paper began to look old fashioned by the late-1960s and Kodak withdrew their cream base papers about 1967.



Kodak Bromide enlarging paper BRIWF – 2Z
A bromide paper dating from the 1940s. Bromide Royal Ivory White Fine (grain) – Medium (2) Double Weight (Z).

This paper was available in double weight only, in sheet sizes up to 20 x 24 inches, and in bulk postcards.
Grades available were: Soft, Medium, Contrast, and Extra Contrast. It was known as “Royal White” before 1941.

Manufacture ceased after 1947, but the “Snow White Fine (grain)” and the “Tinted Fine (grain)” tints and surfaces were obtainable in certain sheet sizes for a few years after 1947. “Ivory White” was described as a paper “…………..between a cream and a white, and imparts just that warmth of tone to the average enlargement that is sometimes lacking in papers with a mauve-white base”.

The Kodak glossy bromide paper manufactured pre-1947, known as “Nikko” paper, had a mauve-white base.
The nearest equivalent paper after 1947 was Bromide Ivory Fine Lustre (IFL), available in grades 1, 2, and 3 in double weight only.
Normal grade code – IFL 2D.


Three labels from packets of Kodak Bromide paper dating from the late 1940s.

The top label, BG-2, is Bromide Glossy (2), Medium contrast, single weight, known after 1947 as WSG 2S. (White Smooth Glossy, Normal, single weight).

The middle label, BV-2, is Bromide Velvet (2), Medium contrast, single weight, known after 1947 as WVL 2S. (White Velvet Lustre, Normal, single weight).

This label has been altered from a label denoting “Double weight” paper, as the “Z” and “Double weight” has been crossed out. This is typical of paper manufactured during the “change over” period of labeling and quantities.

The bottom label, BBS-2, is Bromide Black Smooth, (2), Medium contrast, single weight, known after 1947 as WSM 2S, (White Smooth Matt, Normal, single weight).

Below (scroll down six images) is a photograph of a later label, post 1947, of this surface in Soft grade, WSM 1S.

As best can be determined, Kodak “Crayon Black” Bromide paper was introduced in 1940 in Smooth, Natural, and Rough surfaces.

The British Journal of Photography Almanac for 1941 describes the smooth surface as “An excellent material for medium sized prints which are to be handled a good deal”.

Pre-1940, the paper was known as “Platino Matt Smooth”. In 1947, the name of the paper was changed to “White Smooth Matt”, and was available on a single or double weight base in three contrast grades. Bromide White Smooth Matt and Bromide White Velvet Lustre were replaced by a new surface, “White Semi-Matt”, (WSemiM), in 1971.


Kodak Bromide Paper BRTF-2 Z
Kodak Bromide paper BRTF2-Z. Bromide Royal Tinted Fine (grain), (grade) 2 (medium), Z (double weight).

This paper is likely to date from 1947 until the early 1950s.

After 1947, most Kodak printing papers were packed in quantities of 10, 25, 50, and 100 sheets in boxes or packets. Before this time, small sizes of paper were graded by weight and larger sizes were packed in multiples of a dozen.


The paper has an extremely fine grain matt surface with a yellow base. Medium grade was for printing with normal contrast negatives.

The image alongside is the front of the BRTF-2 Z packet shown above.

The original packaging quantity and size have been over-printed.

The packet was originally intended to hold 6 sheets of 11½" x 8½" paper at the pre-1947 quantity of ½ dozen (i.e 6) sheets. It was then changed at some point to a different size, 10" x 8", with the new 10 sheet quantity specified.

This particular type of Bromide paper was sold in the late 1940s in boxes and packets printed with the red and black vertical line design. The sealing label and paper variety code were never changed to the new coding system (see picture, below, of Bromide box coded BRSWF2-Z.)


Libra paper
The following images of a box of Kodak Libra paper were sent (Feb 2020) by Trevor White. He asked whether the authors of Photomemorabilia might know anything about Libra enlarging paper. He couldn't find any reference to it on the Internet except that Kodak are now using the name for Litho' plates. The box originally contained 100 sheets of 10"x8" grade 2 glossy doubleweight and the batch code on the side is 37741-02-15.

Subsequently, Trevor heard from Erin Fisher and Todd Gustavson, both at the George Eastman Museum, who found reference to this name of paper relating to a Jesse Crittenden Ireland, trading as the 'Libra Company' of 16 Dorest Street, Salisbury (though a reference within Chemist and Druggist, for 21st May 1910, p45, gives the same address but as being in London). J.C.Ireland was applying to trademark the name "Libra" at that time, with an application number (?) of E.G. 321,403. The reason why the Libra paper should be in Kodak packaging seems uncertain, though it may have been manufactured by J.C.Ireland and Kodak marketed it. Erin Fisher also commented that the style of the box and design look to be around 1910 compared to other examples in the collection.

But there remains uncertainty whether the 1910 J.C.Ireland Libra paper is the same as the Kodak Libra paper shown below.

Michael Talbert commented:

  • the Libra paper seems to be a Bromide paper, as the box has a Kodak Bromide type code (LG-2 Z), not a Bromesko code; the two were very different.
  • the 100 sheet packaging quantity is odd for 8 x 10 inch paper manufactured prior to 1948. Before that time this size of bromide paper was sold in multiples of 12, so instead of 100 sheets, one would expect the quantity to be, say, 144 sheets.
  • the “Made in Gt. Britain” label (see below) was only put onto paper boxes and packets from sometime during WW2 up to 1950 or so. During the latter part of WW2 it was changed to a stamp, or printed on the packet along with Kodak in the oval surround (see the BRTF-2Z packet above).
  • the black 'Kodak' label (see centre of the box image) was thought to date to the 1930s, but with the proviso that, at the end of WW2 (1945), Kodak were scratching around for any boxes or packets, regardless of their label. Hence a product from the mid-1940s could have been put into a box with a 1930s 'Kodak' label.
  • the batch No. 37741-02-15 has no letters mixed within the numbers. Most post-WW2 boxes have letters inserted into the spaces where the Libra box has dashes e.g. referring to packagings above, 29367M57E7 on the Bromide BG-5 packet (late 1940s) and 53397J82E5 on the Bromide BRTF-1Z packet (1940s). This might imply that the packets and boxes without the letters in the batch number are older than the packets and boxes with letters in the batch number.

Overall, Michael Talbert was inclined to a conclusion that the Kodak Libra box (below) dates from the mid to late 1930s, the same age as the Bromide BRW-4Z packet (above) with just “Kodak” printed in black. This was apparently confirmed by a discovered price list, see below the box pictures, dating to March 1936.

Why Libra paper doesn't appear in any Kodak catalogues remains a mystery and suggests Libra paper was marketed for a very short time.



Below is shown a price list for Kodak Libra paper, dating from March 1936.      


Bromide Royal
Before 1940
the range of Bromide Royal paper consisted of a range of four variants:
Bromide Royal White,
Bromide Royal White Fine Grain
Bromide Royal Tinted
Bromide Royal Tinted Fine Grain.
“Tinted” was equivalent to a “Cream” base colour, a slightly yellow red, approaching the colour of a sepia toned print.

After 1940 (Taken from the British Journal Photographic Almanac, 1941).
Bromide Royal White became Bromide Royal Ivory White
Bromide Royal White Fine Grain became Bromide Royal Ivory White Fine Grain.
Two new papers were known as:
Bromide Royal Snow White
Bromide Royal Snow White Fine Grain.
There was no change to the Tinted Royal paper.

Michael Talbert comments: "What a mix up of Bromide papers! No wonder Kodak wanted to introduce a new coding system for their Bromide papers in 1947!"



Bromide Royal Paper from 1947.
“Smooth Lustre”, “Fine Lustre” and “Rough Lustre” surfaces were manufactured from 1947 in White, Ivory and Cream base tints, on a double weight base, in three contrast grades, Soft, Normal and Hard, in a range known as “Bromide Royal” paper, see top label left (Ivory, Rough Lustre, Soft, Double Weight); IRL 1.D.

All other surfaces, base tints, and weights were known as “Kodak Bromide”,

As far as is known, by 1952 the word “Royal” had gone from the label and the “Rough Lustre” surface was included in Kodak’s “Bromesko” range of papers only, as with the middle label; WRL 3.D.

From 1952, all surfaces, base tints and weights of Bromide paper were labeled “Kodak Bromide”, see bottom label, WFL 1.D.

Packets and boxes of “Bromide Royal” paper with the post-1947 coding are now extremely rare.

Below is shown the rear label of the Bromide Royal IRL 1.D, advising that the paper was for “hard” contrast negatives.


Picture of Bromesko IFL3D and Bromide IFL2D
The Bromesko box (left hand side) dates from 1947 to possibly 1953. The yellow background for “IFL3D” (IFL = Ivory Fine Lustre) was changed to purple in the early 1950s.

The brown/grey boxes were gradually replaced by yellow boxes (right hand side image) during the 1950s.

The red and black vertical line design dates from 1947, although the same design was already being printed onto American Eastman Kodak black and white photographic paper boxes prior to 1947. The vertical line design lasted until the end of the 1950s. The wording was changed underneath “Open in Photographic Darkroom” on the later packaging dating from the late 1950s.

The Bromide IFL2D box dates from approximately 1953 to 1958. Michael believes 1953 was the year that Kodak London introduced the yellow packaging for their black and white printing papers. The red and black vertical line design was changed to two offset rectangles, “Kodak” and “Photographic Paper”, in 1959 (see picture below).

In the 1950s and 1960s, Kodak Bromide paper was generally made with a white base. The “Fine Lustre” surface was the only surface in the Bromide range made with an Ivory tinted base. By 1969, the Ivory tinted paper was no longer sold in the Bromide range of papers, although Kodak continued to make Bromesko Ivory Fine Lustre paper until the mid 1970s.


A Kodak advertisement on the inside front cover of Amateur Photographer magazine
for 21st January 1953.

Picture of Bromesko WSG3S and Bromide BRSWF2Z
The Bromesko 10 sheet packet (left hand side) dates from 1947 and is unusual in that the printing is only in black. It may pre-date the red and black printing, such as on the Bromesko IFL 3D box in the photograph above.

The Kodak Bromide paper 100 sheet box has a sealing label which was in use prior to 1947, although the box dates from 1947 onwards. In that year Kodak London introduced a new coding system for their Bromide, Bromesko and Velox papers stating Tint, Texture, Surface, Contrast Grade No. and Weight, in that order.

In the Bromide range of printing papers at least 10 different surfaces and tints were labeled with the new codes. Another two, not included in the 10, were to keep their old codes and the boxes and packets were sealed with the previous pre-1947 labels – such as shown on this box.

BRSWF 2Z – translates as Bromide, Royal, Snow, White, Fine (grain), 2 (grade), Z (Double Weight).
The other surface which was never labeled with a new code was:
BRTF 2Z, being Bromide, Royal, Tinted, Fine (grain), 2 (grade). Z (Double Weight). Michael believes that these two varieties of Bromide paper were short-lived. Neither are mentioned in a 1951 list of Bromide papers.

In July 1953, Harringay Photographic Supplies, surplus photo material dealers, had a half page 'spread' in “Amateur Photographer” magazine offering for sale “Kodak Royal Bromide“ papers in both the above surfaces. Four paper sheet sizes, plus rolls, were listed at vastly reduced prices. It is likely that the paper would have been out of date by 1953.


Picture of sealing labels of various Bromide and Bromesko papers.
For a time after 1947, most Kodak Bromide and Bromesko papers carried labels with both the new codes and the old codes relating to the various surfaces. This picture shows three of these labels.

The Bromide box at the top states the new code as WSM1S – White Smooth Matt, 1 (grade) S (Single Weight). The label shows that, pre 1947, it was known as - Bromide Crayon Black, Soft, Single Weight. The old code gives it as BBS 1 - Bromide Black Smooth 1 (grade).

The “Smooth” is added to differentiate this particular surface between “Crayon Black Natural” and “Crayon Black Rough”, two surfaces of Bromide paper sold pre-1947.

The Bromesko papers prior to 1947 were coded by numbers.

44 was Glossy Medium Grade; 64 was Glossy Contrast Grade. If the paper had been “soft”, (Grade 1 ), the code would have been 24. The first number denoted the Grade, and the second number denoted the surface/tint. The “Z” denoted Double Weight.

Pre-1947, Bromesko Cream Lustre, Soft, Double Weight had the code 27 Z
After 1947, the same paper was known as Bromesko Cream Fine Lustre, Soft, Double Weight: CFL 1 D.


Three boxes of Kodak Bromesko and Bromide paper dating from 1959 to the early 1960s.

The middle box with the early type of sealing label dates from 1959 to approximately 1961. The Postcard boxes of Bromesko paper (left and right hand sides) with the new design of sealing label date from 1961 to 1965.

The left hand box contained Bromesko paper with a “Cream” paper base colour. Cream Fine Lustre, Normal, Doubleweight.

“Cream” was of a reddish brown colour, and gave a very warm toned print with a brown black. “Cream” based paper was most suitable for portraits and summer landscapes. Kodak (U.K.) discontinued making Cream base paper in 1967.


Soft Grade 1 and Extra Soft Grade 0 of Kodak Bromide Paper
A “Soft” contrast grade of Kodak bromide paper had been available since the early 1930s, usually labelled BG1 or “1 soft”. The Soft grade was intended for the printing of contrasty, also called “Hard” negatives, where the subject brightness range was too high to yield a satisfactory print on a medium contrast grade of paper, labelled BG2 or “2 normal”. Printing a "hard" negative on Normal grade paper would have yielded a print with glaring white highlights and shadow areas having no detail.

In the 1930s, an Extra Soft, or 'Grade 0', was available in Kodak “Velox” paper in two surfaces, Glossy and Art = semi-matt, in single and double weight paper. In 1947, Glossy became White Smooth Glossy, and Art became White Velvet Lustre, in single weight only, coded WSG 0S and WVL 0S.

In 1940, Kodak Press Bromide paper was listed in the Kodak catalogue as having five grades of contrast = Soft, Normal, Medium, Contrast and Extra Contrast. Press Bromide paper was designed for processing and printing under “rush” conditions, and was described as having 'exceptional latitude'. From 1947, when Kodak in the UK changed their paper grading system, Press Bromide paper continued to be made in five contrast grades, but now the previous Soft Grade became Extra Soft = Grade 0, Normal became Soft = Grade 1 and Medium became Normal = Grade 2. This was a more logical contrast range description, running from 0 = Extra Soft to 4 = Extra Hard in a glossy surface only, coded WSG 0S to WSG 4S, meaning White Smooth Glossy, contrast grade number, Single Weight.

By the mid 1950s, the regular Kodak Bromide paper was being sold in the same five contrast grade range in the glossy surface only.

The Grade 1 = Soft grade was manufactured in most surfaces and weights of Kodak Bromide, Bromesko, Royal Bromesko, and Velox papers, but Grade 0 = Extra Soft was confined to Bromide Glossy, mainly in single weight, and then only made available in certain sizes and quantities. Manufacture of Kodak Bromide paper in all grades ceased in 1982 (replaced by Veribrom and Kodabrome II papers), and the Extra Soft grade was obtainable in five paper sizes, single and double weights, up until the withdrawal of the paper.



Two boxes of Kodak Bromide paper, dating from the early 1970s.

WSG 0D = White Smooth Glossy, Grade 0 Extra Soft, Double Weight.
In 1973, this grade of paper was available in six sizes in double weight and eleven sizes in single weight in a glossy surface only.

WSemiM-1D = White Semi Matt, Grade 1 Soft, Double Weight.
The Semi Matt surface was introduced in 1971 to replace the White Velvet Lustre and White Smooth Matt surfaces (WVL and WSM).

WSemi-M recorded fine detail well, and prints could be retouched easily. The surface was slightly more matt than the “N” lustre surface in Kodak's range of colour printing papers. The paper was also available in single weight.



Below is shown front and back of an advertising leaflet for a new grade of extra soft contrast Bromide paper, Grade 0. The leaflet is believed to date to March 1956.



Kodak Bromide Transferotype Paper
Transferotype Bromide paper had an emulsion which could be transferred onto an opaque or transparent surface. The paper was exposed in exactly the same way as a normal Bromide paper and then developed in a suitable black and white print developer such as Kodak D-163, diluted 1 part developer to 3 parts water. Development time was 1½ minutes at 68°F (20°C).
Apart from Kodak D-163, other black and white print developers could be used, viz:

Kodak “Universal”, a concentrated liquid developer.
Kodak “Velox” developer, which gave a blue black tone. An early type of developer in use in 1923.
Kodak “Press Contrast” developer, a liquid developer which produced a slightly higher contrast than other developers with a shorter development time.
Very early black and white print developers include “Kodol”, a highly concentrated developer suitable for all types of photographic material
Early developers also include Kodak “Special” developer, which became known as D-157 and later, after a formula change, D-163.

Print developers designed for use with chloro-bromide papers, or “warm tone” papers, such as Kodak “Bromesko”, were not recommended.

It was essential to use a non-hardening fixer with Transferotype.
Suitable Fixers included Kodak “Acid Fixing Salts”, a non hardening fixer in use up to the 1950s. This became known as Kodak “Acid Fixer Powder” in the 1950s, replaced by Kodak “Metafix” powder in 1965.
A liquid fixer in use from the 1950s was Kodak “AM-33”, but needed to be used without the liquid hardener addition.

Prints were washed after fixing for about 30 minutes, and could be transferred immediately or dried for future use. Heat drying was not recommended.
If a sepia toned print was desired this could be carried out after washing in Kodak Sepia Toner or in a formula such as Kodak formula T-52.

Wood, cloth, pottery, metal, or interior plaster board were suitable surfaces for receiving the photographic image printed on the Transferotype paper. Translucent or transparent surfaces also gave good results, but about four times the normal print exposure was necessary before transferring onto a transparent surface. This was required to give enough density to the print when light was projected through the image as opposed to light reflected from the image.

Transfering the Image from Paper to Support
Hard surfaces only required cleaning before transfer. Porous surfaces, i.e. paper, cloth, or any sort of fabric, were first treated with a coating of gelatine to “seal” the surface. Kodak gave a formula of ½ ounce photographic gelatine dissolved in 12 fluid ounces of water. Extremely porous surfaces required several coats, each coat drying before the next was applied.

The support, with it’s gelatine coating, was then hardened in a Chrome Alum hardening bath for about 5 minutes, then washed for 10 minutes before drying.
The Kodak formula for the Hardening Bath was: 100 grams of Chrome Alum dissolved in 1 pint of water.

After drying, the print and it’s support were soaked in water and squeegeed together with a roller face to face, the front of the print facing the support. The “pack” was kept under pressure between photographic blotting paper for at least an hour.

To complete the transfer, the print and it’s intended support were immersed in water at a temperature of 100°F to 105°F until the print base, the paper which the photographic emulsion was coated onto in the first place, came away from the intended support.

For transfer onto a hard surface, such as glass to make a black and white transparency, a higher temperature at 130°F to 160°F was necessary.

After transfer, the transferred print on its new support backing, were treated in a Hardening Bath of 2% Chrome Alum and washed for a few minutes before drying.

Since the front surface of the print is placed onto the front surface of the support, the back of the print is then facing you. Consequently, the resulting transferred image is reversed, left to right. To avoid this, the negative had to be placed emulsion side up in the enlarger negative carrier, so as to make a reversed Transferotype print. After it was transferred, of course, it appeared correct.
Printing the negative the wrong way round would still be necessary even when transferring to a transparent support, such as glass, clear plastic, or a thin fabric, if the intention was to use the Transferotype for making lampshades. The image needed to be on the outside of the lampshade so that the support material protected the transferred image from heat radiated from the light source.

History of Kodak Bromide Transferotype Paper
Transferotype paper was available in the 1920s, the earliest reference found, dates from 1923.

1923Transferotype paper made in Normal and Contrast grades, possibly sold in the same sizes as single weight Kodak Bromide paper.

1933Transferotype paper listed in Kodak’s 1933 catalogue in Soft grade only. Prices and sizes as single weight Bromide paper.

1940Transferotype paper made in 6½ x 4¾ inches to 15 x 12 inches in 6 sheet and 25 sheet packets. Possibly in a Medium contrast grade but the grade was not stated. Other sizes could be supplied to special order. Kodak 1940 Catalogue.
Contrast grades of black and white Kodak photographic paper.
Soft – for contrasty, or hard negatives.
Normal, later to be known as Medium grade in the 1930s, for normal contrast negatives. Reverted back to “Normal” after 1947.
Contrast – for soft negatives, later to be known as “Hard” after 1947.

1957Transferotype paper made in “Normal” contrast only. 8 x 10 inch size listed, 10 sheet packets. Kodak November 1957 catalogue.

1960 to 1964        “Normal” contrast only. 8 x 10 inches sheets and 40 inch x 33 feet long rolls. Other sizes to special order.

1965Transferotype ceased being made in the UK in February 1965.

As far as is known, Eastman Kodak at Rochester, USA, never manufactured a photographic paper of this type.

The paper could be handled under a safelight filter suitable for Kodak Bromide paper.

Kodak suitable safelight filters:
1920s and 1930s    Wratten Series O, or Wratten Series 1, or Wratten Series OA; depending on the type of Kodak safelamp.

1940s and 1950s    Wratten Series OA in the 1940s; this became Wratten Series OB from 1953 and was recommended for all Kodak safelamps.


Front of Transferotype packet (left):

A packet of Kodak Bromide Transferotype paper dating from the early 1960s.
Note the original price of this 10sheets packet = 7/2 = 7s & 2d = 36p (new pence).

Back of packet (above):

The paper was supplied in “Normal” grade, and in “White Smooth Glossy” surface, Single Weight only.
D-170 was an “Amidol” type of print developer, made up to the Kodak formula.
D-170 was never sold as a Kodak packaged product.

Kodak Bromide Finisher Paper
Finisher Bromide paper was made with a surface specially for re-touching. The description given in the 1933 Kodak UK catalogue reads:
“The surface is an unusual combination of 'sheen' and 'tooth', so that brilliance is obtained coupled with a great ease in finishing with pencil, crayon, or brush”.

The paper sample taken from the packet shows a surface with slight reflectance and very slight roughness. It could be described as a semi-matt surface with a very slight fine grain appearance.

According to the 1933 Kodak UK catalogue, the paper was obtainable in single weight and double weight thicknesses, in soft, medium, and contrast grades.

Apparently it was first marketed in the early 1930s, certainly by 1933, but was no longer manufactured after 1947, with no equivalent surface within Kodak's new range of papers introduced in 1947.

'Tooth' in re-touching terms refers to the roughness of the paper surface. This surface roughness gives something for the re-touching medium to penetrate into and 'key' onto. A print made on ordinary glossy paper would be difficult to re-touch as the re-touching medium, whether pencil, crayon, or liquid colourant (ink or dye) applied by brush, would leave an obvious surface mark in the case of pencil or crayon, and would likely smear in the case of liquid retouching. The 'tooth' surface enabled the re-touching medium to penetrate into the surface and be far less visually obvious.



Above is shown a 100 sheet box of Finisher paper, of postcard size, 3½ x 5½ inches,
medium grade and double weight.
There is no code printed on the label but it could be assumed to be BF-2Z (Z = double weight).

To the left is shown a packet of Finisher paper, 10 sheets of 6½ x 4¾ inches,
medium grade in single weight. Code BF-2, Bromide Finisher grade 2.
Possible price is two shillings and sixpence (2s/6d = 22½p).

Both items date from the 1940s, pre 1947.

Royal Bromesko
Below is shown a very early leaflet for Royal Bromesko paper dating from August 1962. Initially introduced in a "Smooth Lustre" surface (White and Ivory), another surface, "Fine Pearl", was available by early 1963.




Boxes and Packet of Royal Bromesko paper

Left: WSL 3D. This was the box which I purchased in 1968, described above. The label is typical of the type used from about 1965 to 1971.

At back: WSL 2D. This packet dates from 1962 to ’63. and is very likely to be the first type of labeling for Royal Bromesko paper.

Front: WFP 3D. This box dates from the mid 1970s. 24x30.5 cms was approximately 9½x12inches. By the mid-1970s, the 9½x12inch size was replaced by the well known 10x12inch size of printing paper.



Back labels of above Boxes and Packet

It is interesting to note that the oldest label, WSL 2D, gives no information on the Kodak developers recommended for use with the paper, unlike the equivalent labels on Kodak Bromide, Bromesko, and Velox packets at that time. The developers to be used with the papers were normally printed between the safelight to be used and the surface translated into French.

This type of label lasted until about 1965.

Kodak Fine Grain Positive Film (as manufactured in the UK from the mid 1930s)

Fine Grain Positive film was intended for making positive black and white transparencies from 35 mm negatives. It was blue sensitive (sensitive to blue and white light only) and was approximately the same speed as a Kodak black and white printing paper. The film could be handled in a darkroom under the same lighting conditions as black and white printing papers i.e. Kodak safelight filters OA, OC and the earlier OB filter. A red safelight, such as Kodak 1A, could also be used for increased safety. When processed, the film base appeared completely clear, as there was no anti-halation backing or base tint.

35mm negatives were usually contact printed onto this film, and the length of exposure was similar to contact exposure onto a Kodak enlarging paper.

The tins of 35mm film contained no instruction leaflets, but the instruction sheets for Kodak D-163 Developer listed Fine Grain Positive Film development times. D-163 was a general purpose black and white print developer for processing Kodak enlarging papers. For Fine Grain Positive Film, the stock solution was diluted 1 part developer with 3 parts water, and the film developed for 1½ to 2 minutes at about 68°F (20°C). Development times varied from 2½ minutes at 64°F (18°C), to 60 seconds at 75°F (24°C). Although Kodak recommended their D-163 developer, any enlarging paper developer could be used successfully with the film.

In the 1960s to 70s, the film was sold in the UK in 5 and 17 metre lengths. In the USA, the 35mm film was obtainable in 100 foot tins, and a sheet film version was available in various sizes, 4 x 5 inches to 11 x 14 inches (1972).

The author purchased a 5 metre tin of Fine Grain Positive Film in late 1966 with the intention of making some black and white transparencies from 35mm negatives. The film was processed in a Johnson Print developer, possibly “Johnson Bromide”, or “Johnson Con-Sol”. Most of the transparencies were rather soft, and due to lack of experience in those days, I never tried processing the film in a more energetic developer, such as Kodak D-11 or Kodak D-8. The author had more success when using the film to make black and white internegatives from colour transparencies, and copying black and white photographs. As the film was blue sensitive, the tonal rendering of the prints made from the internegatives was, in theory, wrong, but in practise, this made little difference to the quality of the prints.


On the right, above, is a 17 metre tin of UK manufactured 35mm Fine Grain Positive Film, dated April 1964.The box on the left hand side contains similar in sheet film format, but this was never sold in the UK.This box was made by the Eastman Kodak Company and had the same thickness of film base as the 35mm film.

Back label of the sheet film box. Versatol was an Eastman Kodak developer, not available in the UK. Dektol was an Eastman Kodak black and white paper developer, which replaced the UK made D-163 developer in 1985. D-11 was a high contrast developer, sold in the USA and the UK.

Positive Film: History, Use & Chronology
In the 1930s, Kodak was using various types of blue sensitive films to make prints from negatives taken in motion picture cameras.

A negative cine film in 35mm or 16mm format, such as Kodak Super X film, was exposed in a cine camera and then processed to yield a negative image. A positive print from the negative film was made by printing onto a blue sensitive film resulting in a positive print suitable for projection. The usual method was to make a positive print from all of the material exposed in the camera, edit this print, and then edit the original negative to match precisely to the already edited print. The edited negative was used to make as many copies of the film as needed.

A better method was to print the edited positive onto the blue sensitive positive film to make a duplicate negative. This edited duplicate negative was used to make any number of prints, printing the duplicate negative onto the positive film. Printing from a duplicate negative protected the irreplaceable original negative from damage by careless handling. Another advantage of this method was any number of duplicate negatives could be made.

First Method:
Camera original negative printed onto positive film.
This positive print is edited.
Original negative is then edited to match edited positive print.
Edited negative is used to make any number of prints.

Second method:
Camera original negative printed onto positive film (possibly Fine Grain Duplicating Positive 1365, see below).
This positive print is edited.
Edited positive print is printed back onto positive film to make an edited duplicate negative (possibly Fine Grain Duplicating Negative 1203, see below).
The duplicate negative is used to make any number of prints thus preventing damage to original negative shot in camera.

Three types of film were manufactured by Kodak in the 1930s for printing and duplicating purposes.
Fine Grain Duplicating
Positive 1365. This was blue sensitive.
Fine Grain Duplicating
Negative 1203. This was panchromatic, sensitive to all colours.
Positive Film 1301. This was for making prints from 1203 and was most likely blue sensitive.

It was likely that Fine Grain Duplicating Negative 1203 was sensitive to all colours (panchromatic), because colour filters could be used to change the tonal rendering of scenes when making duplicate negatives.

These motion picture films were intended to be sold to motion picture film processing laboratories in lengths of up to 2000 feet. They were not available for sale to the amateur photographer.

Sometime during the 1940s, Kodak Positive Film was made available to “Film Strip Producers”. Film strips were transparencies projected with a “slide” projector, only instead of individual transparencies, all the pictures were printed onto a short strip of film which could be wound through the projector to show one picture after another. They were not motion pictures of any kind. Kodak Positive Film was most likely Positive Film 1301, sold in short lengths.

Film Strip Production is described at length in an article printed in the “British Journal Photographic Almanac” for 1949, see “Film Strip Production by the Amateur Photographer”, by M.L. Haselgrove. Mr. Haselgrove mentions that “Positive stock, on the other hand, is rather like a Bromide paper emulsion, being primarily blue sensitive and so is safely handled in the light from a “bromide” safelight. The base is clear, no anti-halation dye being used, and resolving power is fairly good”.

The film described is most likely 35mm Kodak Safety Positive. This film became Kodak Fine Grain Positive Safety Film by 1954.

Kodak Fine Grain Positive Film was listed in the Kodak Professional Catalogue for February 1960, and was sold in 5 metre and 17 metre lengths in 35mm format. It was priced to sell at about two thirds of the cost of camera films of the same length, such as Plus-X or Tri-X.

In 1979, Kodak in the UK was importing Eastman Fine Grain Release Positive Film 5302. This was sold in 35mm format in 100 foot lengths and replaced the UK product viz: Fine Grain Positive Film.

The 5302 was described in the US Eastman Kodak catalogue for 1979 as a "Black and White Positive print film for general black and white release printing”.

Black and white release printing meant that the film was mainly intended for use to make positive prints from film taken in motion picture cameras. Exactly the same film was included in the black and white section of the “Kodak Professional Product Profile” catalogue of 1999.

The film was taken off the market between 2000 and 2002 as there is no mention in the equivalent Kodak catalogue for 2003.

Film Introduction Dates

The followiwng table applies to UK made film only. Some of the Eastman Kodak USA equivalent films were introduced at different times.
As far as can be ascertained from old Kodak catalogues and BJPAs (researched by Michael Talbert and Gavin Ritchie), the introduction dates of the 'still' films (as opposed to cine), in 35mm and roll film formats, were:

Film Name

Year Introduced

Film Speed
from a Jan 1939 dealer catalogue;
pre-1960 rating.
Kodak = DIN system


Some films may have been obsolete by late 1938 and not obtainable
Kodak Film or Kodak Regular Film  

26 Kodak = 32 ASA (roll)
Possibly the same as the roll film introduced in 1903 as 'Kodak Non-Curl Ortho' film? It was a less sensitive orthochromatic film than Verichrome, sensitive to blue, green, and slightly sensitive to yellow light. It could be handled and developed under a fairly bright red safelight. Still for sale in 1943; probably replaced by Verichrome film at the end of WWII.


28 Kodak = 50 ASA
Roll Film.


27 Kodak = 40 ASA
Roll and 35mm.
Super Sensitive Pan


28 Kodak = 50 ASA (35mm)
30 Kodak = 80 ASA (roll)

The Wallace Heaton catalogue, “Minitography and Cinetography” 1939 (eventually became the Wallace Heaton Blue Book) says Roll films were developed to a higher contrast than 35mm films because of the larger negative size. It was found that this extra development also increased the speed of the film by about half a stop from 28 Kodak = 50ASA(ISO) to 30 Kodak = 80ASA(ISO). The speed of Kodak 35mm and Roll Panatomic film remained the same at 27 Kodak = 40ASA(ISO), possibly the roll film was developed to a higher contrast but the speed increase gained was negligible. These notes applied to film developed in Kodak D-76 developer only.

It seems Super Sensitive Pan film was first made as a cine or motion picture film in 1930 or 1931, with 'still' films, having the same emulsion, being introduced in 1933. The emulsion seemed to be overly red sensitive, compared to other panchromatic films at that time, so it would have performed well in artificial light.



29 Kodak = 64 ASA
Manufactured first as a cine film first before being marketed as a still film, but only in 35mm format. Super X replaced Super Sensitive Pan in 35mm format in 1937


27 Kodak = 40 ASA
Roll and 35mm. Replacement (improved version) for Panatomic film in all sizes. 828 size is listed in Kodak (UK) 1940 catalogue.


29 Kodak = 64 ASA (35mm)
Replacement for Super X (improved version, different name) in 35mm format. Not available in roll film until 1951 in the UK and then replaced by Verichrome Pan in 1955


32 Kodak = 125 ASA
Replacement for Super Sensitive Pan in roll film sizes in 1939. Introduced for 35mm in 1938. Still not available in roll film at the end of 1938 so likely introduced as roll film in 1939.
E.F. Panchromatic

1938 or 1939

23 Kodak = 16 ASA
Introduced in 1938 or 1939 as far as can be ascertained. Known as E.F. Pan; possibly Extra Fine Grain Panchromatic

Tri-X sheet film was introduced in 1939 but was not made in any other format until 1955, when it became available in the USA as 35mm, 120, 127, 620, and 828, though not at first in the UK, even as late as November 1955 (Ref; Camera World, p302). It was announced in the BJPA for 1956 for the UK market. Verichrome Pan also first appeared in the UK in 1956.
The name Panatomic-X was retained but was a new emulsion, matching the quality of the new Tri-X and Verichrome Pan films (Re; BJPA 1957, p210).
In 1952, in the USA, there was Verichrome, Plus-X, and Super-XX roll films; Tri-X was still sheet film only. There was a glass plate Tri-X in the USA but its believed that came later.

Super-Panchro Press sheet film, still available in 1954, gave way to Panchro-Royal sheet film in 1955.

Royal-X Pan, in 120 roll film format only and with a light sensitivity 4x that of Tri-X. It was hailed as "the world's fastest film" when it was first advertised by Kodak in the BJPA for 1959, suggesting it may have first gone onto sale in 1958.

In the USA in 1960, Plus-X Pan Professional film was available in 120 and 620 roll films, but you had to buy a minimum quantity of 25 rolls at a time.


Film Speed 'Safety Factor' in the 1930s (until mid-1960)
Most black and white films manufactured from the late 1930s were “speed rated” at half their true emulsion speed. This was because before this time the majority of the films sent into Developing and Printing (D&P) laboratories from amateur photographers were badly under exposed. By printing a speed on the film carton which corresponded to half the true speed of the film inside the carton the amateur photographer was over exposing his negatives by one stop, doubling the exposure. Hence this led to fewer underexposed negatives and an improvement in print quality.

Professional photographers who worked out their own exposure times using exposure meters or by other reliable means and who developed their own films, could double the speed printed on the film carton with little danger of under exposure. Plus X 35mm film could be exposed at 125 ASA(ISO) or 32 Kodak, and Super XX 35mm or roll film at 250 ASA(ISO) or 35 Kodak.

This increase in speed was only successful when the films were developed in a developer which did not decrease the film speed during development; best would have been something like Kodak D-76 developer. Developers labelled “Extra Fine Grain” often cut the film speed down by about half a stop, some as much as one stop, halving the ASA(ISO) rating.

In the summer of 1960, manufacturers removed the above safety factor (only relevant to black & white film), as can be read here.

A Kodak Leaflet from May 1961, entitled 'What's happening to film speeds?', which explains why Kodak increased the speed of their black & white films, can be downloaded as a pdf here. On the last page (p6) is a list of films and plates, together with their revised speed ratings, as available from Kodak at that time. This leaflet was a continuation of an article published 6 months earlier in 'Kodak Professional News' magazine for December 1960.

Below are two pictures from a Kodak booklet “How to take pictures at night” published in 1937.



Plus-X Sheet and Roll Film
A Kodak catalogue for films, dated January 1954, plus a May 1952 price list which came with it, lists the interesting Plus-X roll film, which was only on the market for about five years – 1951 to 1956. It was replaced by Verichrome Pan in 1956. Pre-1956, Verichrome film was not Panchromatic but Orthochromatic i.e. insensitive to red light.

A chronology of Plus-X sheet film is shown in the table below. First manufactured in 1955, it replaced Panatomic X sheet film.




Speed in ASA and ISO
(& Comments)
1955 Plus-X 80
1961 Plus-X 160
(2x exposure safety factor removed)
1962 Plus-X Pan 160
(Improved film)
1963 Plus-X Pan 125
(Speed decrease to match the then new Plus X Pan Professional roll film)
1966 Plus-X Pan ESTAR thick base 125
(New polyester base for Kodak sheet films)
1968 Plus-X Pan Professional ESTAR thick base 125
(Name changed, but exactly the same film as the 1966 version)
1969 Plus-X Pan Professional 4147 ESTAR thick base. 125
(Film number added to name)
Available in the UK until 2002 in this 1969 form. The film speed did not change. It is not listed in sheet film format in the "Kodak Propfessional Products Profile" UK catalogue for 2003 and a possible replacement was Kodak Professional 100 T-MAX sheet film.

A new Plus-X sheet film was introduced in March 1962. The name was changed to “Plus-X Pan” film and the new film was described in an instruction sheet as a “medium speed panchromatic film of very fine grain and high acutance, permitting a considerable degree of enlargement”. Improvements over the old “Plus-X” film included higher sharpness, finer grain, better exposure latitude, and reduced drying times. As the new film had inherently higher contrast, the development times were drastically reduced. Kodak D-76 developer was the standard developer for processing the film. The development time for the old Plus-X sheet film was 17 minutes at 68°F for large tank development. The new time for Plus-X Pan film was 8 minutes at 68°F for large tank development.

Kodak London received several letters of complaint from customers who were getting very high contrast negatives on the new film. These customers were using the old development time for the new film! The answer was, of course, to please read the instruction sheet, where the new development times were given.

Kodak UK revamped Plus-X roll film in August 1963 by introducing "Plus-X Pan Professional” film, available in 120 roll film packaged as 2 units each with 5 rolls. It was an excellent film, virtually grainless, enlargements were very sharp.



Plus-X sheet film boxes. On the left, Plus-X sheet film of 4¾ x 6½ inches, dating from 1955. Plus-X sheet film was introduced in 1955 to replace Panatomic-X sheet film. The box illustrated carries the first design of the Plus-X sheet film labels.

The instruction sheet gives a speed of 64ASA (ISO) to daylight, or 50ASA (ISO) to tungsten light. No “Develop Before” expiry date is printed on the box.

On the right is a Plus-X Pan sheet film box, 5 x 4 inch, dating from 1964, with a “Dev. Before” date of September 1966. Plus-X Pan film was an improved version of the earlier Plus-X film. By this time the Safety Factor of recommending that black and white films should be exposed at half their “true” speed had been abolished, and the instruction sheet states that the speed this film should be exposed at was 125ASA (ISO) for both daylight and tungsten. For some reason the new Plus-X Pan film was rated at one third of a stop less, 125ASA instead of 160.



Plus-X Pan; A new sheet film box label and an “Estar Base” box label.

The new labelling, “Kodak Professional Film” for sheet film boxes, was introduced at the end of 1965, as the right hand box, above.

By 1966 the emulsion for Plus-X Pan film, and other sheet films, was being coated onto a polyester plastic film base. Previously, most sheet film emulsions were coated onto a non-inflammable tri-acetate base (referred to as 'safety film'). The “Estar Base” was thinner, and had excellent dimensional stability.



Kodak UK added “Professional” to their labels for Plus-X Pan sheet film with an Estar base, in 1968. The left hand box shows an American version of Plus-X Pan Professional film made by Eastman Kodak at Rochester, New York with a “Dev Before” date of November 1970. In use, the film was almost identical to the equivalent UK manufactured Plus-X (right hand box). The only difference was that all Eastman Kodak black and white sheet films were “Code Notched”, similar to colour sheet films. All these films were rated at exactly the same speed and were given exactly the same development.

The right hand box was manufactured in the UK, with a “Dev Before” date of October 1973.


Kodak UK added “Professional” to their labels for Plus X Pan “Estar” base sheet films in 1968. The upper “Plus X Pan” box, with a 'Develop Before April 1968' stamp, was manufactured from early 1966 and the “Plus X Pan Professional” box underneath, stamped 'Develop Before April 1971', dates from mid 1969.


On the left is the back label of a UK made Plus-X sheet film ('Estar' thick base) box dating from 1966, before the appearance of the "Professional" label; "Dev Before" date of April 1968.

The other back label is of a UK made box (4147 thick base) dating from 1971; "Dev Before" date of October 1973.


Tri-Acetate to Estar Thick Base for Black & White Sheet Films in the UK
Changes to black and white sheet film supports from a tri-acetate base support to a polyester plastic were announced in June 1966. The polyester plastic base provided greater dimensional stability, much greater resistance to damage, and the sheets of film laid “flatter” in the darkslide and in the negative carrier of the enlarger.

Kodak had tried coating the emulsions of certain Graphic Arts sheet films onto a more shrink resistance plastic than the tri-acetate base before 1966. Since the 1950s, early Kodalith Ortho films, such as Kodalith Ortho P.B. type 3 film were made by coating the emulsions onto a polystyrene base (P.B). The film is described as having “remarkable dimensional stability for all jobs demanding size holding and exact register”. The film was available in 1960 in 0.005 inch and 0.010 inch base thicknesses. By mid-1961 the emulsions of several Kodalith films plus others were being coated onto a polyester base, Kodak trade mark “Estar”.

The first two general purpose sheet films to change to a polyester thick base were Plus-X Pan and Panchro Royal films. Kodak’s trade mark “Estar” for the new base support was printed next to the film title on the labels – see above: picture of 'Plus-X Pan film box, develop before date of April 1968' for one of the earliest examples. For most general purpose sheet films, the new polyester base was 0.007 inches thick, slightly thinner than the old tri-acetate base at 0.008 inch.

Several of the Graphic Arts films were obtainable with much thinner bases than 0.007 inches. The base supports of Royal-X Pan and Kodak Process films were changed to polyester later in 1966. For “Estar” base sheet films, Kodak changed the first digit of the film number from 6 to 4 for most of their general purpose films. Plus-X Pan became 4147 instead of 6147, Panchro Royal became 4141 instead of 6141.

Professional Plus-X and Tri-X films in packs of 10; 35mm Tri-X 10 Packs (6 packs from 1967)

Above: Below: A leaflet on Tri-X Pan 35mm film in 10 unit packs, dated 1964

Tri-X Pan Professional roll film, 400ASA (ISO), was introduced in the UK in 1961. It was said to have “a new emulsion which gives much quicker development and drying times and finer grain than ever”. This is likely to be a comparison with individual Tri-X Pan roll films which were sold at the same time in 120, 620, 127, and 828 film sizes. Tri-X Pan Professional was also available in 220 size roll film in the late 1960s.

Both sides of the film had retouchable surfaces. It was a film sold mainly to professional photographers for portraits, weddings, industrial, and advertising photography. The Kodak instruction leaflet packed with the film gave advice on exposure when dealing with “high contrast” conditions at formal weddings in bright sunlight, viz: Use a meter setting of half the stated film speed, 200ASA (ISO), and cut development of the shortest development times given in the instruction sheet by one third. The pack shown above of Tri-X Professional has a “Dev. Before” date of April 1972.

A 35mm version of the 10 unit packs of Tri-X Pan Professional film was introduced in early 1964. On page 6 of the “Kodak Professional News” magazine for June 1964 there is an advertisement for the 35mm size film which is identical to the leaflet reproduced opposite. The ten cassettes of film were all 36 exposures, enough for 360 pictures. This film was not a replacement for 36 exposure cassettes of Tri-X Pan film which continued to be obtainable purchased in single units. By June 1967 the 10 unit packs of 35mm films had been changed to 6 unit 35mm cassetttes labelled 'Tri-X Pan Profesional Pack' and coded TX 135-36.

Its unknown whether the 35mm “Professional Pack” film was the same emulsion as the 120 size Tri-X Pan Professional, or just “ordinary” 35mm Tri-X as could be purchased as single cassettes.

Similarly, its unknown to what extent the UK manufactured Tri-X Pan Professional roll film in 10 packs of 120 size was an indentical emulsion to the UK manufactured Tri-X Pan 120 roll film sold in single rolls, though some of the development times in D-76 developer were very slightly different between the two films.


Plus-X Pan Professional roll film, 125ASA (ISO), was introduced in the UK in 1963 as a general purpose medium speed, extremely fine grain, film for professional photographers. It was similar to Kodak Verichrome Pan film but with shorter development times and a retouchable surface on the emulsion side of the film. It was only sold in packs of 10 size 120 roll films. The pack of Plus-X Professional shown above, has a “Dev. Before” date of January 1971.

Super-XX Sheet Film in the UK

Super XX sheet film was introduced in 1940 as a very fast panchromatic film with grain fine enough to permit a reasonable degree of enlargement without showing objectionable grain size on the print. The film gave a good reproduction of colour rendering in black and white tones and was not unduly sensitized to red light. It was particulary useful as a sheet film for portraiture in the studio. The film speed (in 1940) varied slightly according to the developer used to process the film, though only by two thirds of a stop.

In D-76 developer: 32 Kodak speed, approx. 125 ASA (ISO). Fine Grain.

In a general purpose developer, DK-50, DK60a: 31 Kodak speed, approx. 100 ASA (ISO). Medium Grain.

In DK-20 developer: 30 Kodak speed, approx. 80 ASA (ISO). Finest Grain, similar to Kodak Microdol, but was a “silver solvent” type of developer.
(Kodak Microdol developer was first marketed in 1945, first sold in the UK about 1950).

In 1954 Kodak described the film in their catalogues as having soft gradation, great exposure latitude and with a very long exposure scale. Super XX sheet film was the recommended film for making colour separation negatives, either by photographing the subject directly, or by making the negatives from a colour transparency when the photographer wanted to obtain colour prints by the Dye Transfer process.

The speed of the film was given as 31 Kodak speed, 100 ASA (ISO) for daylight exposures, or 29 Kodak speed, 64 ASA (ISO) for exposing under tungsten lighting.

The 1954 Kodak catalogue also offered “Super Panchro Press” sheet film for sale. This sheet film was very similar to Super XX (same speed), but was stated to possess a higher contrast with shorter development times, about two thirds of Super XX development times. Super Panchro Press sheet film was replaced by Panchro Royal sheet film in 1955.

By 1956 the speed of Super XX had increased to 125 ASA (ISO) for daylight, 100 for tungsten. Then, in 1961, Kodak increased the film speeds of most of their black and white films by removing the previous exposure “Safety Factor”. This effectively doubled the speed although the films themselves did not change. The Kodak 1961 UK catalogues rated Super XX sheet film at 200 ASA (ISO) for daylight and tungsten lighting.

The film was re-named “Super XX Panchromatic” in 1962 and remained on the UK market until 1967.

Kodak “Separation Negative Film” replaced Super XX as the recommended film for separation negatives for the Dye Transfer process.

The only other Kodak UK film named Super XX in 1967 was “Super XX Aero film” which lasted until 1971, then replaced by “Plus X Aerographic film 2648”.

In 1973, Kodak UK introduced “Double X Aerographic film”. Eastman Kodak at Rochester, USA, continued to manufacture “Super XX Pan” sheet film coated onto an “Estar” thick base.



On the left is a Super XX sheet film box dating from the late 1940s to the early 1950s. Sheet film was packed in multiple quantities of one dozen until 1952 – this box shows two dozen. After 1952 most sheet film was packed in quantities of 25 sheets to the box.

The right hand box dates from 1940 to around 1947 to 48, 12 sheets of 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches. There are no “Develop Before” dates on either box, Kodak U.K. started printing “Develop Before” dates on black and white sheet film boxes in the late 1950s.



On the left is a box of Eastman Kodak made Super XX Pan sheet film dating from 1966.

The right hand box is a UK manufactured Super XX Panchromatic film box dating from 1965. It is thought that the “Develop Before” date is January 1967.

Super-XX and Panatomic-X Sheet Film


Super-XX ¼ plate (3¼ x 4¼ inches) sheet film (right hand box, above) dating from the late 1940s to very early 1950s when sheet film was packed as 24 sheets to the box. Although both these films were first introduced around 1939-40, the boxes shown in the above picture date from the late 1940s to early 1950s. This is known because the design of the Kodak UK sheet film box changed about 1947-48.

Super-XX was a fast panchromatic film rated at 100 ASA (ISO). In the late 1940s it was the fastest Kodak film available in the UK. It was suitable for press photography, studio work, action photographs, and portraits. As far as I can find out, Super XX sheet film was introduced in the UK in 1940, to replace Kodak “Super Sensitive Panchromatic” sheet film.

Panatomic-X sheet film, an extremely fine grain panchromatic film rated at 32ASA (ISO). It was suitable as a general purpose film, especially useful when the negatives had to be enlarged greatly. Panatomic-X sheet film was introduced in the UK in 1939 as an improved version of Kodak Panatomic sheet film. Panatomic-X sheet film in the UK lasted until 1955, when it was replaced by Plus-X sheet film (see above), which was double the speed. In the USA, Eastman Kodak marketed their version of Panatomic-X sheet film until the late 1960s

This box of ¼ plate film (left hand box, above) of 25 sheets to a box, dates from between 1952 and 1955. Kodak in the UK started packing 25 sheets to a box in 1952 in sizes up to 20 x 24 inches. Both boxes of sheet film are difficult to date accurately because Kodak never printed “Develop Before” dates on their boxes until the late 1950s.

Verichrome, Plus-X Pan Professional and Tri-X Pan Roll Films  


On the left are two rolls of Verichrome Pan roll film, the top dated “Develop Before August 1960”, and the bottom, “Develop Before November 1964.”
Kodak Verichrome Pan film was introduced in 1955 as a panchromatic version of the previous Verichrome (orthochromatic) film. Kodak Verichrome film was sensitive to blue, green and, to a certain extent, yellow light, but was insensitive to red. Anything that was red in the picture came out black, or very dark grey in the print. But the insensitivity to red light was useful in the darkroom, as the film could be handled and developed under a relatively bright red safelight. Verichrome Pan film had to be developed in total darkness, or under a very dim, dark green, safelight.

In 1952 Verichrome film was sold in 8 roll film sizes, the largest being 122 size, which produced a negative of 3¼ x 5½ inches, 6 exposure to one roll of film. Film speed was 50ASA (ISO) to daylight but, because of its insensitivity to red light, the speed dropped to 25ASA (ISO) in artificial (tungsten) light. As far as can be ascertained, Kodak Verichrome film was first sold in some format or another, as long ago as 1930.

Verichrome Pan film had a very fine grain emulsion and was sensitive to all colours. It was a general purpose film with a very wide exposure and development latitude, making it popular for amateur photographers, author included.

The film was a replacement for, and an improvement on, Kodak Plus-X roll film, which had been sold on the UK market since 1951. From 1955, Plus-X film in roll film size was no longer made, but the film continued to be available in 35mm size in 36 exposure cassettes and tins of bulk film, suitable for re-loading cassettes. In 1963, Plus-X roll film was reinstated as Plus-X Pan Professional film in 120 size rolls. In 1955, Verichrome Pan and Plus-X 35mm film were both rated at 80ASA (ISO) until 1960, when the speed was doubled (no change to the film) to 160ASA (ISO).

A single roll box of Plus-X Pan Professional film is shown (top right) in the picture above. Plus-X Pan Professional film was listed in single 120 size rolls as a “new item” in the “Kodak Buyers’ Guide Professional” in December 1984 in the UK. This film replaced the 120 size Verichrome Pan, although Verichrome Pan continued to be sold in 620 and 127 size roll films, plus the cartridge sizes, 110 and 126. By January 1986 Verichrome Pan was no longer made in the UK. In the following year Kodak T-MAX 100 Professional film became another possible replacement. In 1986 Plus-X Pan Professional film was also sold in 5 roll packs of 120 and 220 film. The illustrated roll of film has a “Develop Before” date of March 1991 and is rated at 125ASA (ISO).

A roll of Tri-X Pan film (lower right) in 120 size, dating from 1970. This film has a “Develop Before” date of August 1972. Tri-X Pan film was sold in single rolls alongside Tri-X Pan Professional 120 film. Both films were rated at 400ASA (ISO). Tri-X Pan and Tri-X Pan Professional were both high speed general purpose films suitable for action photographs, press photography, fashion, studio portraits and “available” light photography. Both films could be “pushed” successfully in certain developers to well over 1000 ASA (ISO).

220 Size Roll Film
As far as is known, the 220 size of Tri-X Pan Professional film was initially been manufactured in the USA. Eastman Kodak introduced this new size as long ago as 1965 and, at that time, Kodak Ltd in the UK were importing the film in 20 roll packs to Special Order only, with a delivery time of 6 to 8 weeks. However, demand for the film must have increased towards the late 1960s as by 1968 it is likely that the 220 size (coded TXP 220) was being made in the UK together with the 'normal' 120 size film (coded TXP 120). The 120 size film was sold in 10 roll packs and the 220 in 20 roll packs (Ref: Kodak Professional Catalogue for the UK; 1968). Both films were rated at 400 ASA (ISO) and there is nothing in the entry in the 1968 catalogue to suggest that the film was imported from the USA. In 1971, the quantity of 220 size film was halved to 10 rolls per pack.

Sometime between 1974 and 1980 Kodak UK gave up manufacturing 220 size Tri-X and reverted to importing it from the USA. The speed was changed to 320 ASA to match the speed of the sheet film. At that time, 5 roll packs of both 120 and 220 sizes became available (Ref: Kodak Professional Catalogue; 1980).

Super Panchro-Press Sheet Film

In the UK
Super Panchro-Press sheet film was introduced in the USA in 1939 and became available in the UK the same year. It is not known if the film was actually made in the UK or had to be imported from the USA. The British Journal Photographic Almanac (BJPA) for 1940 includes the film in the Kodak advertising section and Kodak describes the film as being a replacement for Kodak Panchro-Press sheet film but with double the speed.

The BJPA for 1941 gives the speed of “32 Kodak” or approximately 125ASA (ISO). This speed included the usual (pre-1960) “Safety Factor” of about one stop. The film could be exposed using a rating of approximately 250ASA (ISO) with little danger of under exposure.

The “New Goods” section in the 1941 BJPA states the film has a “Grain Size” of 1/8,000 inch (0.003 mm) which the reviewer believed to be “almost a fine grain value”! He went on to state “The material is outstanding in respect of low background fog and cleanness and speed of processing”.

The Kodak Professional Catalogue for 1940 gives the following description:
Super Panchro-Press is an extremely fast film particulary suitable for day or night photography of all kinds. It is characteristic of the film that if it is slightly underexposed and overdeveloped it’s effective speed is greater than when it is given normal exposure and development. Its exposure latitude is much greater than is ordinarily the case with ultra-high speed materials. The emulsion has an abrasive over coating and is physically hardened to withstand the rough treatment often given to photographic materials in press and commercial work.

When developed in Kodak D-76 developer the speed given was "32 Kodak" in daylight and "31 Kodak" in Tungsten lighting. In 1940, Super Panchro-Press was obtainable in sizes from 3½ x 2½ inches to 8 x 10 inches in boxes of 12 sheets; changed to 24 sheets in 1947.

The emulsion had a “Type C” sensitivity, which meant that it had a greater sensitivity to red light (known as “Increased red sensitive panchromatic”), than a “Type B” sensitized film. “Type B” sensitivity meant that the emulsion was evenly balanced to all colours throughout the colour spectrum (known as “Correct panchromatic”). In the early to mid 1940s, the sensitivity was changed to Type B to give a more correct rendering in black and white tones.Type B and Type C films were both panchromatic, but the type C film had a greater sensitivity to red light.

(For information: Type B panchromatic film would reproduce red, green, and blue objects in the same tone of grey but a Type C panchromatic film would render red objects slightly lighter in the print).

By 1954 the speed had been decreased to 100ASA (ISO) or "31 Kodak" for daylight. A Kodak Catalogue for 1954 stated that the developing and fixing times were two thirds of those recommended for Kodak Super XX sheet film. Super XX was exactly the same speed but with a lower inherent contrast. The film was now packed in boxes of 25 sheets. Super Panchro-Press film was replaced by Panchro Royal sheet film in 1955.


In the USA
Super Panchro-Press sheet film was introduced in the USA in 1939 as “Eastman Super Panchro-Press Safety Film, (Antihalation)” with a “Type C” sensitized emulsion. Type C emulsions were more sensitive to the red end of the spectrum (orthochromatic) than Type B films having “normal” sensitivity (panchromatic), producing a “more correct” rendering of colours in black and white tones. One advantage of this increased red sensitivity was that the film was suited for “available light” photography i.e. taking pictures indoors under dim tungsten lighting.

The film speed was given as a Kodak American speed of Kodak 500, or roughly 125ASA (ISO), but this included a (pre-1960) “Safety Factor” of about one stop. Good results could be obtained when the film was exposed at Kodak 1000, or about 250ASA (ISO). Super Panchro Press sheet film eventually replaced the much slower Panchro-Press sheet film (approximately 50ASA (ISO), although both films were available for sale in the USA in the early 1940s.

A modified version of Super Panchro-Press sheet film introduced in the early 1940s was “Super Panchro-Press, Sports Type”. This film was rated at double the speed i.e. Kodak 1000 with the usual “safety factor”, or Kodak 2000, approximately 500ASA (ISO), if the safety factor was ignored. When processed in certain developers, the speed could be increased even more. Kodak D-82 (needed to be made up to a formula), or Kodak D-19 (ready packaged), could give a realistic speed of around 1000ASA (ISO).

The film was originally intended for photographing sports events under tungsten lighting or very weak daylight using high shutter speeds but was suitable for any “available light” situation. The film had a “Type C” (Increased red sensitive panchromatic) sensitivity. Between 1941 and 1944 the sensitivity of Super Panchro-Press, Sports Type, film was changed to a “Type B” sensitivity (fully Panchromatic). It was the fastest film in the world until manufacture ceased in 1951.

By 1960, the Safety Factor of Super Panchro Press Type B film had been removed and the speed was then rated at 250 ASA (ISO). An Eastman Kodak catalogue for 1961 describes the film as “one of the most versatile films in the Kodak line. It has high speed, excellent colour balance, and wide latitude in exposure and development”.

The film gained the film number of 6146 in 1970 but, unlike other sheet films, the emulsion was never coated onto an “ESTAR” thick base.

In 1973, the film was obtainable in sizes from 2½ x 3½ inches to 8 x 10 inches in 25 sheet boxes, plus 4 x 5 inches and 5 x 7 inches in 100 sheet boxes, and 8 x 10 inches in 50 sheet boxes.

Manufacture ceased in 1974 leaving Tri-X Pan Professional 4164 sheet film, “ESTAR” thick base, as the nearest equivalent replacement.


Super Panchro-Press Type B film box, dated "Develop Before May 1963"

Super Panchro-Press Type B film box, dated "Develop Before January 1965"

Super Panchro-Press Sports Type box, dated "Develop Before March 1952"

Three Super Panchro boxes, as illustrated above and left,
showing their "Develop Before...." dates.

Back label of Super Panchro-Press Sports Type:
Super Panchro-Press Sports Type showing description and recommended Kodak developers.
If the film was not used immediately, it was advised to store the box in a refrigerator to preserve the very high speed properties of the emulsion. For increasing the film speed beyond Kodak 2000, or about 500ASA (ISO), processing in Kodak D-19, a rapid working developer, or Kodak Dektol, a developer mainly suitable for black and white printing paper, with an increase in the normal stated time of development, would gain another stop i.e would double the speed to 4000 Kodak, about 1000ASA (ISO).

Back label for 1963 box:
Super Panchro-Press Type B film box showing description and developer recommendations.
The rear label on the 1965 box is identical except for the addition of “Polydol” in the list of recommended developers.

Miscellaneous Instruction Leaflets
Click on the following titles to download the files as pdfs.

Bromesko Paper, October 1964
Bromide Paper, 1964
D-163 Developer, November 1966
DK-20 Developer, September 1953. Very fine grain developer that came before Microdol. It is believed DK20 and Microdol were sold at the same time for a few years in the early 1950s. DK20 was finally abandoned in favour of Microdol about 1954. Microdol became Microdol X in 1962. Small parts of the original of this leaflet have become obscured, but this pdf file has been (hopefully) accurately re-written in the few offending areas.
D61a Developer, January 1957. A poweful developer that produced large grain when used with Tri-X film !
Microdol-X Developer, October 1964

Velox Paper, October 1953
Velox Paper, June 1959


Kodak D-163 Developer
Kodak D-163 was originally known as “Kodak Special Developer”, made up to a formula very similar to the Kodak D-157 developer preparation. Then, in the late 1930's, the developer was made up to a new Kodak formula known as D-163, and at that time the bottles and tins of developer were labeled as “Kodak Special Developer, Formula D-163.” By the 1950's the words “Special“ and “Formula” were dropped and the developer simply became known as “Kodak D-163 Developer“.

The developer was originally for use as a general purpose developer for films, glass plates, Bromide and Velox papers, and available in powder or liquid form. In later years it became the standard developer for Kodak Bromide, Velox, Bromesko and Royal Bromesko printing papers. It gave a neutral black to Kodak Bromide and Velox papers, a warm black to Bromesko paper and a pronounced warm black to Royal Bromesko paper.

The dilution for all Kodak papers, to make a working solution, was normally one part concentrated developer to three parts water.
The concentrated developer was either made up from a powder or was purchased as bottled liquid concentrated developer. The development time varied between the printing papers, but was in the range of one to three minutes at 68°F. For faster development with Kodak Bromide papers, the developer could be diluted one part developer to one part water.

D-163 could also be used for the rapid development of roll and sheet films, at three to four minutes at 68°F. The author recalls one or two students at the Art College he attended in the 1960s, developing certain high speed Kodak roll films in D-163 i.e. Tri-X Pan and Royal X Pan, for well over the recommended time, claiming fantastically high ASA (ISO) speeds as for use in “available light “ photography. Unfortunately, the author never having had the experience of “uprating” film speed by this development technique, cannot vouch for these claims.

Kodak D-163 developer was replaced by the American Eastman Kodak “Dektol” in 1985, sold in liquid and powder form. Dektol had been on sale in America for many years and from 1985 was recommended for processing most UK Kodak black and white printing papers, and the developer became listed in the UK Kodak catalogues.

More Kodak Black and White Developer Chemicals

From left to right:

A D-76 film developer packet dating from the 1970s.
A D-76 film developer tin dating from the 1940s to 1950s.
Kodak “Special” developer bottle and carton dating from the 1930s.
“Dektol” liquid developer dating from the early 1990s.


D-76 developer for developing black and white negative films was invented by J.G.Capstaff of the Eastman Kodak company in 1926. It was one of the first film developers to give the finest grain the film was capable of without affecting the speed of the film being developed. There were at least ten variants of the formula, the most well known being D-76b and D-76d.

A formula for D-76 dating from 1937.


2.5 grams 

5 grams 
Sodium Sulphite (crystalline) 

200 grams 
Borax (Sodium Tetraborate) 

2 grams 
Water to make 

1000 ccs (1 litre) 

The developer was listed as “D-76 Elon–Hydroquinone–Borax” developer in the UK “Kodak Professional and Industrial” catalogue for 1940. “Elon” was the Kodak trade name for Metol. A packet of D-76 supplied as powder chemical components to make 20 fluid ounces of developer would have cost 2 shillings (10p) in 1940.

The packet illustrated above made 600ccs and cost 23p in 1973, including VAT.

Kodak “Special” developer.
This bottle of Kodak “Special” was made up to the Kodak formula D-163 which replaced the earlier D-157 formula in the 1930s. A description of D-163 developer is given above, on this page.

The directions on the bottle label:

For Films and Plates: Use one part of solution and three parts of water.
For Bromide Papers: Use one part of solution and three parts of water and develop for 2 minutes at 65°F.
For Velox and other Gaslight Papers: Use one part of solution and one part of water and develop for 30–40 seconds at 65°F.

The bottle and the cardboard container it was packaged in date from the mid-1930s. The liquid Kodak “Special” developer is listed for sale in the Kodak UK catalogue “Professional Photographic Apparatus and Materials” for 1923 but only as a 1 gallon size. The equivalent catalogue for 1933 does not list any “Special” developer as liquid solution. In those early catalogues, the developer would have been made up to the D-157 formula.

As far as is known, an 8oz bottle of “Special” would have cost 1 shilling and 3 old pence (1s/3d) in 1940, just more than 6p.

Dektol developer.
Dektol instructions on the back of the bottle:

Dilute 1+9 (1 of the concentrate plus 9 of water) and develop 1½ - 2 minutes at 68°F.
Polyprint RC paper 1½ - 3 minutes at 68°F.
1 litre will develop 30 sheets of A4 sized paper.

Dektol was an American Eastman Kodak developer principally for developing black and white printing papers. As far as is known, it was introduced in the USA only, sometime in the late 1940s, as an improved version of the Eastman Kodak packaged D-72 developer.

An Eastman Kodak photographic catalogue for 1950 states the (then new) Dektol developer had four advantages over the old D-72.

1.    20% greater print capacity.
2.    50% better keeping properties.
3.    Greater clarity in the partially used developer solution, practically no sludge, or discolouration.
4.    An almost constant development rate that doesn't slow down with age.

Dektol was available from its introduction as a powder developer (developer solution made up from powder components) in the USA and was not sold in the UK until 1985 when Dektol replaced the well known D-163 developer. An additional liquid version was introduced at the same time (as the illustration above). Dektol developer made up from powder components was further diluted 1 + 2 with water to make a working solution.

In a “Silverprint” (a professional photographic dealer, based at Valentine Place, London, SE1 in 1997) catalogue for 1997–1998, Kodak D-163 liquid developer is listed in two quantities for sale alongside Dektol. A Kodak UK Products catalogue for 1999 gives only Dektol and Polymax developers for print processing. It is thought that the Silverprint people may have been making their own D-163 developer to the Kodak formula and offering it for sale. It is thought by some that D-163 developer produced a slightly warmer “tone” rendering in the print i.e. a slightly brownish colour to the “blacks”, compared to Dektol. Hence, both developers had their adherents and both were (1997-1998) listed for sale.

Apart from the choice of developer, much of the tone colour in a black and white print depended on the type of paper, the base colour, and the development time.

Specialist Materials
Kodagraph Ortho Film KO5 and Kodak Reproduction Film 2566
The following images have been sent by Alan Grange of Sierra Madre, California. Alan says "In the mid-1960s I worked in an engineering firm’s darkroom where the main activity was photographing large diagrams onto half plate film, which could be filed and used later to print duplicates. Over the years I have kept some of the boxes....


Michael Talbert comments:
There are several Kodagraph Ortho films listed in an “Eastman Kodak Stores” catalogue of 1965, but not KO5. The nearest I can find is “Kodagraph Ortho Negative Film EO4” where the 'E' might stand for Estar Base and 4 is likely the base thickness i.e. 0.004 inches thick. EO4 was a high contrast ortho negative film, with a speed suitable for projection, “……………..holds weak pencil lines while maintaining good background density”.

Guessing, KO5 may have been an earlier version of EO4, before the emulsion was coated onto an Estar base. Probably K is for Kodak, O is for Ortho, and 5 likely means 0.005 inches thick, being the thickness of its (pre-Estar) acetate base. In the UK KO5 was the code for Kodaline Ortho film.

Kodagraph films didn't appear in the UK until 1962. Alan's box is dated November 1968.

Kodak Reproduction film 2566 was for contact and camera exposed line work in Graphic Arts. It was of high contrast, orthochromatic, with a high maximum density and very low fog level. It is listed in the American “Kodak Photographic Products” catalogue of 1979–80.


Kodak Blue Brand Medical X-Ray Film
Below is another specialist film box photographed by Alan Grange. The film was coated on an Estar base and had rounded corners, presumably for safe handling under hurried conditions.

In the British Journal Almanac for 1961, containing adverts dating from 1960, Kodak lists a comprehensive range of medical radiographic films (Royal Blue, Blue Brand, Standard, Kodirex) and industrial radiographic films (Industrex, Crystallex, Kodirex) for use with intensifying screens where applicable. Special films were available for Fluorography and cine radiography.



Below is another packaging of Blue Brand X-ray Film, this one for Blue Brand Ultra-Speed (Code 3, Clear; Suitable for all climates). Safety Blue Base, Folder Wrapped.
The Kodak advertisement in the 1945 BJPA refers to it thus:
"The new, supreme medical X-ray film for exposures with fluorescent intensifying screens - almost twice as fast as 'Dupli-Tized' Super Speed film, but similar in contrast and fineness of grain".

The box shown contained 75 sheets of film, each 12 x 15 inches. The instructions on the back of the box read: Open Only in Photographic Darkroom.
USE with 'Kodak' Ultra-Speed Intensifying Screens for maximum speed and contrast. May also be used without screens.
DEVELOPMENT: Use D.I9b 'Kodak' Developer Powder. Develop for 5 mlnutes at 68°F (20°C). Maintain activity of developer with D.I9bR 'Kodak' Replenisher Powder.

STORAGE: Store on end or side, in cold dry place. Mark date of receipt on box; use in rotation.
SAFELIGHT: With a 25-watt bulb, use 'Kodak' Safelight 'Wratten' Series 6B (brown) for direct illumination and Series 6BR (light brown) for indirect illumination.
FIXING: When films are to be dried at moderate room temperatures, use 'Kodak' X-ray Rapid Acid Fixer without its separately packed hardener. With higher tempera-tures, use 'Kodak' X-ray Acid Fixing Salt with Hardener, or 'Kodak' X-ray Rapid Acid Fixer with its hardener.
For tropical conditions refer to Kodak Data Sheet XR-8.
WASHING AND DRYING: Wash for 30 min. in running water. Use 'Kodak' Wetting Agent to prevent drying marks and accelerate drying.
'Kodak' and 'Wratten' are trade marks.


Side view of above box.

Michael Talbert started making colour prints in 1969, using Kodak Ektacolor Commercial paper. He was a photographic colour printer in the 1970s, printing colour negatives mainly onto Agfacolor paper. He also had experience using about 10 types of Kodak paper, plus other makes, Gevacolor, Fuji, Paterson, Konica.

Michael now sets up and takes “Retro” fashion pictures, but prints them digitally.

This page last modified: 31st August 2021 (previously 10th March 2020)