Monday, November 2, 2009

Alticolor, the Autochrome of the 1950s

Thanks to a tip from Autochrome collector Mark Jacobs, I have just acquired my first roll of Alticolor film, actually an entire brick. Alticolor was introduced in 1952 by Lumiere, and was discontinued about 1955 (the expiration date on these rolls being July 1956). It was the final roll film version of the additive screen plate process originally introduced as glass plates in 1907 under the Autochrome name. In the early 1930s the first plastic support versions of the Autochrome were introduced under the names Lumicolor (cut sheet film) and Filmcolor (roll film). And finally the new and improved Filmcolor-Ultra-Rapid and Alticolor were introduced in the 1950s.
While all the Autochrome (and Filmcolor, etc...) that I've looked at with a microscope used potato starch grains and carbon black, there is a rumor going around that there was a change to yeast grains at some point, and that carbon black stopped being used to filled the interstices between the grains. So this very late-manufacture Alticolor film is a test of that rumor. I'll report back once I have examined this film with a compound light microscope.
I particularly like the cloth mailing bag that comes with every roll, addressed to the Lumiere processing center in Lyon. And the roll comes in a cute little aluminum capsule. And maybe the film can still be exposed and developed....but that's for another day.


  1. It's been a great pleasure to find your posts about the alticolor film. Not much to read about it online, and I was looking for informations because I just found two lovely pictures made on this film. I'm an old negative/positive collector and I was amazed by these little 6x6cm slides that look just like autochrome. Here they are :
    So thank you for the complement of knowledge you provided !

  2. According to this ad - - Lumicolor was the roll film and Filmcolor was the sheet film.