Nitrate Nocturne

Nitrate film frame clippings from the Turconi Collection



Clip #03372: A Trip to Mars (Edison, 1910)



About the collection:

This database is a record of the 35mm nitrate film frame clippings collected by Italian film historian Davide Turconi (1911–2005) from the Josef Joye Collection in Switzerland and from other unidentified sources. The collection consists of 23,491 clippings in total (usually two to three frames each). The vast majority of the frames cover the early years of cinema (from ca. 1897 to 1915)... [continue reading the history behind these images]

A huge thank you to Joshua Yumibe for reaching out and for providing this selection. He described for me the unusual colors of many of the clips:

One of the remarkable things about the collection is that it contains a variety of early colored films. Like many black and white photographs during the same period, the first films were often manually colored through a variety of applied coloring techniques—the most common in film being hand coloring, stenciling, tinting, and toning. With hand coloring, artisans (usually women) would paint each frame of a film with tiny brushes; with stenciling, stencil masks would be cut for each frame, one per color, and ink would be sponged through the stencil cuts onto a film print; with tinting, films would be dipped into vats of dye to apply color uniformly over a particular scene; and with toning, films would also be dipped into chemical vats, but the toning chemicals would only affect the darker areas of the frame, transforming them into a single, gradated color while leaving the lighter areas colorless. These various processes were also often combined: e.g. tinting with toning, tinting with stenciling, tinting with hand color.


More details on all of these processes can be found in Josh's book, Moving Color.




Clip #06835: When the Devil Drives (Charles Urban, 1907): tinted






Clip #11367: Pâques florentines (di. Louis Feuillade, Gaumont, 1910): tinted & stenciled






Clip #00762: Dämonit (Neue Film Gesellschaft, 1914): toned & decomposing






Clip #05679: Rodolfo d'Asburgo (Cines, 1909): tinted & faded







Clip #06032: L’écrin du rajah (di. Gaston Velle, Pathé Frères, 1908): stenciled or hand-colored






Clip #04599: Jeptha's Daughter (Vitagraph, 1909): toned & disintegrating






Clip #00888: Seemannsleben (original US title unidentified, Selig): tinted & faded






Clip #06026: L’écrin du rajah (di. Gaston Velle, Pathé Frères, 1908): stenciled






Clip #10760: Unidentified film (Gaumont): toned & stenciled






Clip #08826: La Vie et la passion de Jesus Christ
(di. Lucien Nonguet & Ferdinand Zecca, Pathé Frères, 1903/1905): stenciled






Clip #08830: La Vie et la passion de Jesus Christ
(di. Lucien Nonguet & Ferdinand Zecca, Pathé Frères, 1903/1905): stenciled






Clip #00062: Au pays de l’or (Pathé Frères, 1908): stenciled






Clip #02424: The Clown and His Donkey (Charles Urban, 1910): tinted






Clip #04455: Dienstfertiger Schutzmann (original French title unidentified, Pathé Frères, 1913)







Clip #07234: Söffel und die Straßenlaterne (original French title unidentified, Pathé Frères, 1910)






Clip #10292: Vues d’Espagne en cartes postales (Pathé Frères, 1907)







Clip #06839: When the Devil Drives (Charles Urban, 1907): tinted






Clip #06652: A Baby’s Shoe (Edison, 1912): tinted






Clip #02322: Märtyrer (original French unidentified, Gaumont): tinted & stenciled






Clip #00736: Der mutige Knabe (original French title unidentified, Pathé Frères): tinted and toned






Clip #09220: Die Krappenfängerin (original French title unidentified, Pathé Frères): toned






Clip #06512: The Wreckers of the Limited Express (Lubin, 1906): hand-colored






Clip #09091: Christophe Colomb (di. Louis Feuillade, Gaumont, 1910): tinted






Clip #10253: Les dés magiques (di. Segundo de Chomón, Pathé Frères, 1908): stenciled






Clip #14520: Les dés magiques (di. Segundo de Chomón, Pathé Frères, 1908): stenciled






Clip #18191: Le pied de mouton (di. Segundo de Chomón, Pathé Frères, 1908): stenciled






Clip #21665: Die Zeitpille (unidentified US film)



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