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How to identify celluloid?


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#1 Idiopathos

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 00:25

OK, I know the 'smells like camphor' test. But how else can you identify celluloid?

I ask because I have at least one pen that isn't supposed to be celluloid, but smells strongly of camphor.

#2 Richard

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 00:32

If it smells of camphor, it's celluloid.

Another way to tell is to dot a drop of acetone on an interior surface where it won't be seen, wait a few seconds, and then see whether the acetone softened the surface. If so, it's celluloid.
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#3 Idiopathos

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 02:38

QUOTE(Richard @ Nov 11 2007, 12:32 AM) View Post
If it smells of camphor, it's celluloid.

Another way to tell is to dot a drop of acetone on an interior surface where it won't be seen, wait a few seconds, and then see whether the acetone softened the surface. If so, it's celluloid.

Thank you very much, Richard.

Definitive as the second test is, I think I'll stick to the first. thumbup.gif

#4 bgray

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 03:07

When you want to differentiate celluloid, what are you differentiating this from?

Acrylic acetate?

Won't acetone melt acrylic acetate also?

Good topic, by the way.




#5 Richard

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 04:41

QUOTE(bgray @ Nov 10 2007, 10:07 PM) View Post
Acrylic acetate?

I suspect you're thinking of methyl methacrylate, aka acrylic, i.e., Lucite® or Plexiglas®.

QUOTE(bgray @ Nov 10 2007, 10:07 PM) View Post
Won't acetone melt acrylic acetate also?

Yes, but the reaction with celluloid is dramatically faster and more violent than that with acrylic.
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#6 bgray

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 04:48

QUOTE(Richard @ Nov 11 2007, 04:41 AM) View Post
QUOTE(bgray @ Nov 10 2007, 10:07 PM) View Post
Acrylic acetate?

I suspect you're thinking of methyl methacrylate, aka acrylic, i.e., Lucite® or Plexiglas®.

QUOTE(bgray @ Nov 10 2007, 10:07 PM) View Post
Won't acetone melt acrylic acetate also?

Yes, but the reaction with celluloid is dramatically faster and more violent than that with acrylic.


Thanks, Richard.

#7 david i

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 05:49

QUOTE(Idiopathos @ Nov 10 2007, 04:25 PM) View Post
OK, I know the 'smells like camphor' test. But how else can you identify celluloid?

I ask because I have at least one pen that isn't supposed to be celluloid, but smells strongly of camphor.



You could hold it over direct flame. It tends to light up faster than most other plastics used in pen making.

Of course, pen might need a wee bit o' repair, afterwards.

david


#8 wdyasq

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 06:05

QUOTE(david i @ Nov 11 2007, 05:49 AM) View Post
You could hold it over direct flame. It tends to light up faster than most other plastics used in pen making.

Of course, pen might need a wee bit o' repair, afterwards.

david

If you got it into a pressure chamber the Celluloid should burn at an accelerated rate too. IIRC, it will also supply its' own oxygen. It is advisable to say good-bye to any loved ones and have burial and health insurance paid up before igniting celluloid in a closed space. The remains will probably be collected by a division of the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) to be held s evidence if you do happen to survive.

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#9 Tweel

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 06:16

QUOTE(bgray @ Nov 10 2007, 10:07 PM) View Post
When you want to differentiate celluloid, what are you differentiating this from?

Acrylic acetate?


QUOTE(Richard @ Nov 10 2007, 11:41 PM) View Post
I suspect you're thinking of methyl methacrylate, aka acrylic, i.e., Lucite® or Plexiglas®.

I thought he might be thinking of cellulose acetate, rather than cellulose nitrate..?

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#10 Johnny Appleseed

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 19:05

QUOTE
You could hold it over direct flame. It tends to light up faster than most other plastics used in pen making.

Of course, pen might need a wee bit o' repair, afterwards.

david


There was a wonderful thread here a few years back that went something like this:

Q: "How can I tell if my pen is celluloid acetate vs. celluloid nitrate"

A: "Celluloid nitrate is highly flamible and burns rapidly and brightly. Celluloid acetate burns much less violently"

Q: "Uhm, thanks, but I want to know what the pen is made out of, not what it was."

A: "just trying to help rolleyes.gif "

Have to see if I can find that one. . .

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#11 Kimo

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 21:07

Handle and study lots and lots and lots of pens - ones made from cellulose nitrate, cellulose acetate, and other plastics. After a while you get a feel for which is which.

Until you get to this point - if it is a relatively new pen look at the price. Look up the specs on the manufacturer's website. Real celluloid (cellulose nitrate) will be advertised prominently since it will be a major selling point. If there is any double talk or confusing description or alternative name other than celluloid or if the information is not there, it is not going to be real celluloid. You can also get a sense by looking at the price. Look at how much new pens made from real celluloid cost - if the price of a new pen is a "bargain" compared to those, then in 9 times out of 10 it will not be real celluloid.

On older pens from the 1930s or 1940s, if it is colorful it is likely going to be real celluloid. Plain black or red pens and such are more likely going to be non-celluloid materials such a bakelite or hard rubber.

Or you could just ask the nice folks here. Tell us the brand and model in question and ask.

#12 scholiast

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 19:28

This is a most informative discussion. My Visconti Opera Club is advertised as being made out of cellucrid -- how in the world is this different from celluloid?
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#13 Rufus

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 19:54

Also, the Aurora Optima in Auroloide: is this considered a "real" celluloid pen?
Bryan

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#14 daveg

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 20:13

QUOTE(scholiast @ Nov 30 2007, 07:28 PM) View Post
This is a most informative discussion. My Visconti Opera Club is advertised as being made out of cellucrid -- how in the world is this different from celluloid?


Are you sure? I googled cellucrid and nothing came up. Not even a single match from a Visconti or dealer page.

#15 KClaw

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 21:04

I like David's field test. If it lights up quickly and burns violently, it is most likely Celluloid.
When the test is completed, please contact me re: nibs, barrel rings and pocket clips that you may have for sale as spare parts. thumbup.gif
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#16 Djehuty

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 21:54

As I understand it, bad things happen to celluloid pens if you immerse them in water. I've been wondering for a while, what about pens which contain some celluloid, but are not entirely constructed of the stuff? My Pelikan has celluloid strips sandwiched in acrylic. Is there any chance of water infiltration damaging this celluloid? I read a suggestion that I should put the pen nib-down in a glass of water to help draw out all the ink when flushing it, to reduce the number of times I have to work the plunger, and now I wonder whether that might be a bad idea.

I think bad things would also happen to my Pelikan if I set it on fire, so I think I'll pass on seeing how brightly and in how many colors different parts of it burn. biggrin.gif


#17 Kimo

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 22:21

QUOTE(Rufus @ Nov 30 2007, 02:54 PM) View Post
Also, the Aurora Optima in Auroloide: is this considered a "real" celluloid pen?


Aurolide is cellulose acetate. It is a modern version of celluloid. Traditional celluoid is cellulose nitrate. Cellulose acetate is more stable than cellulose nitrate and it is much less costly. For example, my $70 Retro Double Eight faceted fountain pen is made of cellulose acetate. It is very pretty and comes very close to the look and feel of traditional celluloid, but it is not what most people would call "real" celluloid.

#18 Kimo

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 22:37

QUOTE(scholiast @ Nov 30 2007, 02:28 PM) View Post
This is a most informative discussion. My Visconti Opera Club is advertised as being made out of cellucrid -- how in the world is this different from celluloid?


I've never heard of cellucrid. The Visconti company's website at Visconti corporation website gives the technical details of their pens. They say their Opera Club models are made from "Acryloid". I am not entirely sure what goes into this, but it is not celluloid. They make a number of real celluloid models and they say celluloid in the technical descriptions of those models. My guess from the root of the word "acryloid" is that it is a kind of acrylic resin made to resemble celluoid.


#19 wimg

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 23:58

QUOTE(scholiast @ Nov 30 2007, 08:28 PM) View Post
This is a most informative discussion. My Visconti Opera Club is advertised as being made out of cellucrid -- how in the world is this different from celluloid?

"Cellucrid" is a plastic or acetate which looks like celluloid, but obviously isn't. It has been used for a few pens here and there, but never extensively, so maybe it is just a name rather than a real material.

Warm regards, Wim


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#20 wimg

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 00:01

QUOTE(Kimo @ Nov 30 2007, 11:21 PM) View Post
Aurolide is cellulose acetate. It is a modern version of celluloid. Traditional celluoid is cellulose nitrate. Cellulose acetate is more stable than cellulose nitrate and it is much less costly. For example, my $70 Retro Double Eight faceted fountain pen is made of cellulose acetate. It is very pretty and comes very close to the look and feel of traditional celluloid, but it is not what most people would call "real" celluloid.

The film industry uses cellulose acetate as if it is celluloid, and actually calls it celluloid, too. Although they are not exactly the same chemically, they both smell of camphor, and both have very similar properties. The only way to tell them apart, AFAIK, is by chemical analysis, but I may be corrected on this. smile.gif

Warm regards, Wim

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#21 daveg

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 00:16

Isn't it easier to just ignite them? wink.gif I believe the reason for the switch was that cellulose acetate is far less flammable/explosive than cellulose nitrate.

#22 Kalessin

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 06:16

QUOTE(wimg @ Nov 30 2007, 07:01 PM) View Post
The film industry uses cellulose acetate as if it is celluloid, and actually calls it celluloid, too. Although they are not exactly the same chemically, they both smell of camphor, and both have very similar properties. The only way to tell them apart, AFAIK, is by chemical analysis, but I may be corrected on this.


Historically, movies for theater projection were on cellulose nitrate film stock from 1889 until 1952 or so. Projector fires were common and quite hazardous.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_base
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#23 Univer

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 07:09

Hi there,

I couldn't find any info for "cellucrid" either - but "Cellucride®" is the coined name for the material used by Stipula in the "22" pen. It isn't represented as celluloid; instead, Stipula has this to say: "The barrel of the "22" is made of Stipula's exclusive Cellocride®, produced in strict accordance with the traditional canons of fabrication set down by the masters of celluloid...."

While the proliferation of proprietary names like Cellucride, Acryloid and Auroloid complicates matters, I must admit to a fondness for such terms. They take me back, in imagination, to the dear old days of Radite, Permanite and Pyralin (all of which were, to the best of my knowledge, "real" celluloid).

Cheers,

Jon

QUOTE(daveg @ Nov 30 2007, 03:13 PM) View Post
QUOTE(scholiast @ Nov 30 2007, 07:28 PM) View Post
This is a most informative discussion. My Visconti Opera Club is advertised as being made out of cellucrid -- how in the world is this different from celluloid?


Are you sure? I googled cellucrid and nothing came up. Not even a single match from a Visconti or dealer page.



#24 alvarez57

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 07:43

Just to express appreciation for all of you guys which are making this thread very interesting.
wink.gif

Funny, but my Stipula I Castoni has a strong scent but it is supposed to be resin.. so to piggyback here, what is resin then supposed to be made of?
Thank you.

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#25 wimg

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 20:16

QUOTE(alvarez57 @ Dec 1 2007, 08:43 AM) View Post
Just to express appreciation for all of you guys which are making this thread very interesting.
wink.gif

Funny, but my Stipula I Castoni has a strong scent but it is supposed to be resin.. so to piggyback here, what is resin then supposed to be made of?
Thank you.

That strong scent is rather different from the scent of celluloid. The smell of a resin pens is that of a solvent, rather than camphor, and yes, it can be very strong too. Resin generally is one of many plastics which are petroleum based rather than cellulose based, while both cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate obviously are cellulose based smile.gif

Warm regards, Wim.

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#26 daveg

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 20:30

"Resin" covers a good bit of ground. From The American Heritage Dictionary:

1. Any of numerous clear to translucent yellow or brown, solid or semisolid, viscous substances of plant origin, such as copal, rosin, and amber, used principally in lacquers, varnishes, inks, adhesives, synthetic plastics, and pharmaceuticals.

2. Any of numerous physically similar polymerized synthetics or chemically modified natural resins including thermoplastic materials such as polyvinyl, polystyrene, and polyethylene and thermosetting materials such as polyesters, epoxies, and silicones that are used with fillers, stabilizers, pigments, and other components to form plastics.


#27 alvarez57

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 08:17

Would a Montegrappa Symphony be considered cellulose or resin?
Thanks.

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#28 Kimo

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 02:53

QUOTE(alvarez57 @ Dec 2 2007, 03:17 AM) View Post
Would a Montegrappa Symphony be considered cellulose or resin?
Thanks.


The Montegrappa website says this series are made from real celluloid. Montegrappa makes some of its series of pens out of "resin" which is just another word for nice quality plastic, and some out of real celluloid. The Symphony series is one of the real celluloid ones.


#29 Johnny Appleseed

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 18:21

QUOTE(Djehuty @ Nov 30 2007, 01:54 PM) View Post
As I understand it, bad things happen to celluloid pens if you immerse them in water. I've been wondering for a while, what about pens which contain some celluloid, but are not entirely constructed of the stuff? My Pelikan has celluloid strips sandwiched in acrylic. Is there any chance of water infiltration damaging this celluloid? I read a suggestion that I should put the pen nib-down in a glass of water to help draw out all the ink when flushing it, to reduce the number of times I have to work the plunger, and now I wonder whether that might be a bad idea.


I think the issue is that bad things happen to cellulose nitrate pens when immersed in hotwater, which can cause clouding (as well as possible heat shrinkage). Vintage celluloid pens like Parker Vacumatics and Sheaffer Vacuum-fillers hold ink directly in contact with a celluloid barrel and it causes no problems (other than staining with the right ink). I wash mine off all the time, though rarely soak more than a section. When repairing celluloid, it is generally better to use a dry heat than hot water.

John

So if you have a lot of ink,
You should get a Yink, I think.

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