Sunday, May 24, 2020

1933 Sun Pictures Photo Kit

Pictured above is the paper envelope/wrapper for a 1933 Sun Pictures Photo Kit. The envelope is pink or orange, perhaps it was even red back in the day. As you see, the text features the words "SUN PICTURES" in all caps followed by the directions. There is a "Made is USA" printed near the bottom as is a note encouraging us to collect all 144 variations.

Now, before I get into the pack, I need to clarify that this version is the smaller 2-5/16" x 3-5/8" envelope. There is another version of these that measures closer to 3" x 4" roughly, based on my research. There is very little information that I could find regarding ANY version, though these appear to be some flavor of the W626 Sun Pictures. Generally, though, references to that set are made in regards to the larger version. The set features sports figures and celebrities of the time. Probably the most famous baseball player is the Babe Ruth.

Inside the envelope, which basically fell apart in my fingers as I gingerly attempted to open it without tearing it, we find a holder, a blank piece of photo paper and a very thin "negative."

Below is what remains of the envelope after I gave up trying to be careful (note the color difference in the sunlight):

Here are the pieces inside (photo paper and negative, left; holder, right):

The photo paper and negative each measure 1-1/2" x 2-1/16". As per the instructions, I placed the negative against the photo paper. Each of these has a glossy side and a dull side. The dull side of the negative goes against the shiny side of the photo paper. The two are then placed into the holder. The holder is roughly a 2-1/8" square:

The holder's little half-moon tabs were not very forthcoming. As you see, I was only able to get the upper right and lower left tabs to pop. But, this was enough to hold things in place as far as I was concerned. I then laid it down in the sun:

I waited for roughly five (5) minutes before picking it back up and separating the negative from the photo paper. What I got was a VERY faint black and white image:

Here is an enhanced/edited version of the photo:

Now that I had the image, I wanted to figure out just who this was. As you can see, the name (located in the block at the bottom left of the developed image) did not come through at all. So, I had to rely on the negative to try and solve this mystery.

I took the negative to a mirror and messed around enough with lighting and moving it around to determine that his first name was William. Honestly, I was never 100% sure until later. Figuring out the last name was a nightmare. The text, being mostly dots, was almost impossible to decipher (remember, these are TINY!).

So, pictured above, I scanned the tiny cards in at 2400 dpi. If you click on the image above, you can see a larger rendition. After extensive research online, trying to find checklists and any other information I could, I decided to take a different approach. I searched for "1930's movie starts William." Several names came up, but one was pretty much a dead ringer for our developed mystery guest:

And, after careful examination of the last name on the negative, I came to the conclusion that the suspect was none other than: WILLIAM POWELL!

Now, once you see the name in the flipped negative, you can't unsee it:

The "POWELL" is pretty hard to make out, but the "POW" stand out as the rest sort of falls into place:


The Angels In Order said...

Very cool and odd. I vaguely remember something similar to that when I was a kid in the early 70s.

Fuji said...

Wow. Another very cool product. How cool would it be for Topps to somehow turn this into a baseball insert?

cynicalbuddha said...

Very cool and Nick Charles to boot. I love the Thin Man movies.

Todd Uncommon said...

This post is genius!

Chemistry is amazing. The fact that something so cheaply made, remaining inert for 87 years(!), still reacted at all is impressive.

Bravo! This post should be a HOFer.