photographic equipment
January 31, 2009 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Old-style black and white photographic developing filter: Can someone help me identify a piece of kit?

When I was a lad in the 1970s, I was into photography and used to develop black and white pictures in a darkroom my dad helped me make. One day, expert blagger that he was, he brought home for me this device that (I think) made photographs glossy.

It was a box with a slight convex top which would heat up. You put the still-wet newly developed photos face down on a polished stainless steel plate, put that on top of the heated box, and stretched over the plate a piece of canvas that was rolled up at one end. You clipped it down so it stretched and held the plate and pictures in place.

What I want to know is 1) what was this device called? 2) was I using it correctly? 3) how did it work? and 4) did you have to use a certain type of photographic paper for it? I seem to remember obviously matt paper wouldn't go glossy, but I can't remember exactly how I used it.
posted by stenoboy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) A print dryer.
2) Yes
3) Simple heat and pressure.
4) Yes, you had to use real paper. RC (plastic) coated papers were bad news.
posted by pjern at 9:15 AM on January 31, 2009

I should point out that these machines came in much larger versions, with rotating drums and continuous rolls of canvas, all turning slowly. You placed your photo face-up on the canvas feeding in, and waited for it to fall off the drum at the other end. They pretty much became obsolete when RC paper took over. Prior to modern papers, you had to essentially "iron" your prints to prevent them from curling badly while they were drying, since the emulsions side and back of the paper dried at different rates.
posted by pjern at 9:19 AM on January 31, 2009

Great, thank you for the replies! Mystery solved!
posted by stenoboy at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2009

Technically it was called a ferrotype dryer. I wouldn't say they became obsolete with RC paper because there was always fiber papers available up until the end of silver based printing. I always preferred printing fiber base and used a drum ferrotype dryer up until I stopped printing a few years back.
posted by JJ86 at 4:21 PM on January 31, 2009

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