Early 1900s Americana

Today’s batch of film includes 12 negatives with various photographs of an old folk band, a church, and a lone young man on a raft in the water. There is no backstory regarding the original owner of the negatives, and so my only clues can come from the negatives themselves and the people in the photographs.

The image sizes are approximately 3 x 5 1/8 and there is no brand marking on the edges. According to these specifications, my best guess is that it could be Kodak 542 pack film which began production in 1911. These film packs allowed for a set number of film sheets within a pack. which was then inserted to the back of a camera. Once the photograph was taken, the user could pull a paper tab which was exposed from the film pack which then advanced the film sheet to the next shot.

The condition of the negatives are average; there are several scratches on the emulsion and some of the sheets have tack holes at the top as if someone had pinned them somewhere. The most striking of the images, for me, is the lonely young man on a makeshift raft. The scene looks like something reminiscent of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. My second favorite photograph is the band photo on a porch with each member holding an instrument and posing for the camera.

And lastly, the most eerie photograph is of a church. This particular negative appears to have suffered some sort of developing error, possibly a light leak or fogging. The developing error contributes to the ghost-like appearance of the church.