CURIOUS KODACHROME


A couple of years ago I acquired a number of Kodak promotional brochures and booklets from around 1940.  One of them is entitled Cine-Kodaks & Kodascopes.  The format is unusual as the front cover opens to what is effectively a double page spread. Each succeeding page also being a spread.

The main subject of the publication is Kodachrome 16mm film and equipment, with a lesser emphasis on 8mm.  It is a fascinating document as is shows how all embracing the Kodak line-up was seventy years ago. Five 16mm and three 8mm cameras were listed, along with 12 lenses, Kodascope projectors, screens, lamps, and what have you.

All of this was interesting but what I found truly curious, and I only noticed this last night, is that the brochure contained only one color photograph and that is a separately printed image that has been glued into the brochure. It is a 133 line screened four color letterpress print, presumably to demonstate the quality of Kodachrome 16mm film. Although it does not look like a movie frame.

Tipping photographs into books is a fairly common practice but the print run aren’t all that great. And there is no easy way to do it, except by hand. Kodak brochures must have had many thousands of copies printed.

How was the image inserted? Why? Color printing was  available and I can’t believe this method could cost less than straight four color print job. The quality of the color printing is Okay, but not outstanding. Was it a ploy to soak up unemployment? Did Kodak invent some sort of special machine to do the job?

I can’t second guess Kodak’s print production people of 1940 but it seems a very curious decision.

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