Old, dusty "Keystone" films found in attic.

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Spidey7
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Old, dusty "Keystone" films found in attic.

Unread post by Spidey7 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:00 pm

Hi all, this site was recommended to me for finding out more about some old films that I found while working up in the attic of an old 1850's era rowhouse in Washington D.C. The attic had not been entered in 100+ years, and there was a TROVE of "treasures up there". What a fascinating place! In any case, the homeowner let me keep these two films for my "efforts". Do these ring a bell with anyone? One is a Charlie Chaplin film (but I can't find a title although the number "377" is on the first 6-7 frames. The other is called "Tom Mix in Indian Attack".

I'm curious about their history, and (as I'm sure that MANY newbies ask) if they have any inherent value. Anything anyone knows would be gratefully appreciated.

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Last edited by Spidey7 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Spidey7
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Unread post by Spidey7 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:01 pm

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westegg
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Unread post by westegg » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:24 pm

Sounds extremely intriguing, but it's a bit off to say the place hadn't been entered for 100+ years! Maybe 75?

Hope further assistance can help you with this discovery.

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Unread post by Spidey7 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:41 pm

You're probably right. I'm just going on what the home-owner told me, but if the films are newer than 100 years old, then obviously SOMEONE went up there more recently, unless it was shot into the attic with a harpoon gun of some sort. :wink:

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Unread post by boblipton » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:33 pm

Spidey -- Keystone was founded in 1912.

How could they be one hundred years old?

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Unread post by FrankFay » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:35 pm

You've got some nice films issued by the Keystone Mfg Co. of Boston Mass for their home projector the Keystone Moviegraph. The company wasn't related to Mack Sennet's Keystone studios.
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Unread post by silentfilm » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:44 pm

FrankFay wrote:You've got some nice films issued by the Keystone Mfg Co. of Boston Mass for their home projector the Keystone Moviegraph. The company wasn't related to Mack Sennet's Keystone studios.
The Chaplin film is most likely a clip from a Sennett Keystone film from 1914 and the Tom Mix film is probably a clip from one of his Selig shorts from the mid-1910s. I can't tell by looking of this is 28mm film or 35mm film. Can you measure the width of the film?

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Unread post by Jack Theakston » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:51 pm

Judging from the perfs, it's VERY shrunken 35mm.
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Unread post by Spidey7 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:43 pm

boblipton wrote:Spidey -- Keystone was founded in 1912.

How could they be one hundred years old?

Bob
Ummmm.........Bobby? Sweetie? Sugar-Puss? Honey-Lamb? I believe that I addressed this very subject that has confused you when I said,

"I'm just going on what the home-owner told me, but if the films are newer than 100 years old, then obviously SOMEONE went up there more recently, unless it was shot into the attic with a harpoon gun of some sort. ;), in my third post. Please forgive me if I was too vague.

To everyone else, thanks for all of the great info so far. It is 35mm film. The Chaplin film starts out with Charlie seated at a table with a rather "Bankerish" looking fellow with a moustache. I haven't unspooled the film any more then that because I didn't know if handling it might damage it. Are these films worth anything? Or are they just a curiosity from an age gone by?

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westegg
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Unread post by westegg » Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:13 pm

Given the setting (a neglected attic), I'm wishing a few lost silent features could be awaiting discovery. How rare would this stuff rate anyway? And would "safety film" indicate a somewhat more recent print?

:shock:

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Tommy Stathes
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Unread post by Tommy Stathes » Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:54 pm

Keystone was striking their own safety 35 prints in the mid-20s. These are probably worth $25-50, if that much.
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Unread post by Mitchell Dvoskin » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:41 pm

What Keystone called slow burn safety film was still flammable nitrate. My understanding, and the experts here can correct me if i'm wrong, is that it was a little harder to ignite, but if you did manage to ignite it, it burned quite well. Actually, I can testify that it burns quite well.

Also, I have come across a number of those Keystone tins that did not contain the original title, but a section of something unrelated on full nitrate stock. My suspicion is that the original film wore out and was replaced with a section of film being thrown out by some movie theatre. Those Keystone toy projectors were not gentile on film.

Pathé 28mm film is the only stock I have come across from that time period that is genuine safety film, at least as we think of it today.

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Unread post by Tommy Stathes » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:47 pm

Keystone was indeed selling nitrate clips... either before or concurrently with their newer "safety" prints that had Keystone's own main titles printed in. I'm guessing the old nitrate junk film was cheaper to buy.
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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:23 pm

The oldest Keystone 35mm print I have is date coded 1921, IIRC.

The Keystone Projectors were patented in 1920. I haven't found documentation showing that they were made further back than that yet. Patent #1345793. http://www.google.com/patents/about?id= ... dq=1345793

The films I have marked "Keystone" on the prints are all diacetate. No nitrate. They range from 10 to 100ft, as far as I have seen. Most tinted yellow and Kodak. One I have is on Bay State stock.

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I don't know of any other companies who made film 35mm specifically for projectors. However, I've found two sold by Bloomingdales.

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One could order scrap film from the Paramount Film Co (I think it was called) at any length and probably other places, too. They were advertized as being the same films used in theaters.

When I get my scanner in a week I plan to upload all the toy projector catalog stuff to archive.org. 8)

I used to collect these fragments before the economy went bad. What you'll usually find are comedies, westerns, action films, and newsreels.

It is okay to unspool the whole film. Do so on a clean table top. They've been fooled around with by kids and in an attic for decades. As long as you don't put greasy fingerprints on them they will be okay. :wink:

Keystone Mfg Co. used to be located at 53 Wareham St, Boston. Unless addresses have changed, that location can be viewed on Google Maps' street view.
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:36 pm

I want to add that it would be best to go through those prints on the dining table.

Posting pix of every shot and intertitle in them will help up folks here indentify them for you.

To my eyes, they look like nitrate. If there are sections going bad it is best to find out now instead of later AND the core of those reels are wood with a metal clip. Sometimes the clip rusts and stains the film and the wood core sucks the moisture out of the film it touches making it brittle.

Films like this are best kept on plastic lab cores, IMHO.

If it is Kodak stock there may be symols along the edge of the footage space 1 ft apart. Those are date codes.

Here is a date code chart. Naturally, you are looking for the 1910s and '20s dates.
http://www.amianet.org/resources/guides/date_code.pdf
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:59 pm

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I am beginning to think that INDIAN ATTACK (which your print isn't) may have been included with the purchase of a Keystone toy projector. Its one of the most common ones I've found.

There 3rd or 4th prints of this here and none have Tom Mix!

Its in the first half of this video and a while back Chris Snowden thought it maybe is from IN THE DAYS OF THE THUNDERING HERD (1914). http://www.harpodeon.com/keystone_mpeg.mpeg
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Unread post by Spidey7 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 7:37 pm

Why do you think that this isn't "Indian Attack"?

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Unread post by westegg » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:36 pm

What are the odds any of these films could be previously considered lost, given how much is missing from the silent era?

:shock:

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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:34 pm

Spidey7 wrote:Why do you think that this isn't "Indian Attack"?
The can says the length is 10 feet.

I noticed that the lids are on the cans are closed in your pix. They are best stored with them off. These old films give off a gas that if not aired out will contribute to the decomposition and eventual combustion of the film.

Sometimes these films will cause the inside of the can to rust. If so, it is best to store them where they can breath!
westegg wrote:What are the odds any of these films could be previously considered lost, given how much is missing from the silent era?

:shock:
If these are films cut from theater prints the odds are excellent. Over 95% of cinema is lost from 1890s to 1930. However, that doesn't mean much if these fragments are unidentifiable or run of the mill westerns or comedies.

Nearly all the fragments and odd reels on the shelf next to me exist nowhere else. It is common to find lost films but most of the time they are more valuable to the owner than anything unless transferred to video for others to see. But that is a small investment one most likely will not recoup.
Last edited by Darren Nemeth on Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post by Tommy Stathes » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:39 pm

westegg wrote:What are the odds any of these films could be previously considered lost, given how much is missing from the silent era?

:shock:
Good odds indeed.
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Unread post by westegg » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:56 am

I know there are websites such as these that showcase bits and pieces of silent film, but I wonder what's out there in fragment form that could be made into a more comprehensive account of lost-but-here's-a-frame-anyway condition. On YouTube there's a tantalizing musical number from the otherwise lost 1929 "Red Hot Rhythm" that survived only because it was attached to a reel of another film. It's in early color and heavily duped condition, but a nice find. I wish we knew more of what missing films still exist but are kept secret by collectors.

:x

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Unread post by Spidey7 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:48 am

So, if I unreel the Charlie Chaplin film, how can I tell if it's something different than what the can says? Same for the Tom Mix film? How is it possible that old silent films with such luminaries like Chaplin could only be worth $30? That doesn't seem right? Then again, I don't know anything about silent films.

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Unread post by Tommy Stathes » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:19 pm

Regarding the value, these things are not complete prints of the films...in reality, small fractions. Sometimes they yield rare or previously unknown footage but realistically speaking, they are novelties and curiosities for their age and original use.
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Unread post by Shorty » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:20 pm

The Chaplin frame you show is from Essanay's THE CHAMPION (ran mine to be sure), INDIAN ATTACK (I have a 200' print in 8mm), is Buck Jones, released from Excel. Like A&C's HAVE BADGE WILL CHASE, another commoner, this film was a giveaway from Bloomingdales and others, with the purchase of the machine - My nickel on it, Shorty

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Unread post by Spidey7 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:29 pm

I didn't show a frame of the Chaplin film or the Tom Mix film. I think maybe you're looking at a different post. Are you talking about the frames in Darren Nemeth's post?

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Unread post by Doug Sulpy » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:08 pm

Spidey7 wrote:
boblipton wrote:Spidey -- Keystone was founded in 1912.

How could they be one hundred years old?

Bob
Ummmm.........Bobby? Sweetie? Sugar-Puss? Honey-Lamb? I believe that I addressed this very subject that has confused you when I said,

"I'm just going on what the home-owner told me, but if the films are newer than 100 years old, then obviously SOMEONE went up there more recently, unless it was shot into the attic with a harpoon gun of some sort. ;), in my third post. Please forgive me if I was too vague.

To everyone else, thanks for all of the great info so far. It is 35mm film. The Chaplin film starts out with Charlie seated at a table with a rather "Bankerish" looking fellow with a moustache. I haven't unspooled the film any more then that because I didn't know if handling it might damage it. Are these films worth anything? Or are they just a curiosity from an age gone by?
The Chaplin film sounds like the beginning of "Those Love Pangs," where Charlie's at a table with Chester Conklin. A photo would tell us for sure. :)

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Unread post by Shorty » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:03 pm

Oh yes, sorry, I caught sight of the frame and went with it, THE CHAMPION, I'm certain, the one with Conklin might be THE PROPERTY MAN, the INDIAN ATTACK is Jones tho, Shorty

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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:47 pm

Spidey7,

WHile going through boxes looking for program discs I found three 3 inch 35mm cores that don't fit on my split reels. If you are interested, shoot me a message off the forum with an address to send them to they are yours.

I'll add new leader film and the proper acid neutral tape.

I run a net biz and ship packages every day so it is no big deal or expense to me and is stuff I'd like to get rid of.
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Unread post by Marr&Colton » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:19 pm

Over the years I've found obscure old 16 and 35mm films, but just like playing the lottery, they seldom bring big payoffs. Just like any collectible, they are only worth what a collector will pay for them.

Now if complete features or shorts of this era are unearthed, they are definitely worth something--especially if a previously lost title.

Just because there are famous stars on a particular clip of film doesn't guarantee a big payoff......so many of these kiddie film clips were distributed back then it is no wonder some are still found today---just like other seemingly rare items like piano rolls or 78rpm records....it's only specific titles that have great worth.

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Re: Old, dusty "Keystone" films found in attic.

Unread post by Silencebound » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:22 am

Aw, come on ! Just scanning all the existing frames to prove how it looked by your portable Epson film scanner like that I have and uploaded some of it here and as well to YouTube. :?
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