Assessing the Enami collection

First things first. I'm not usually the guy that makes lists for most things I do, but this happens to be one of those times it will be beneficial, if for no other reason than the sheer number of items that need to be assessed and accounted for during the entire process. In comparing the slides I have to those listed in the one copy of Enami's catalog I currently have, it became apparent that there are a far greater number of slides listed in it's pages than what's included in my meager collection. The PDF catalog copy that represents one of two catalogs that are known to exist, lists the total number of "S" slide numbers and description ending at 727. I can only assume there would have been a second/third/etc volume to include additional slides which should begin at 728 and continue on until at least 3032 or beyond - as that's the largest 'S' number my set contains.

As I understand Enami's product offerings to any potential buyer - either an individual walking into his studio, or a business client or publisher buying in bulk - the catalogs detailed the entirety of the images he held as negatives that he could readily produce or pull from his in-house stock, where the buyer could choose them individually. They could select a single item, or choose to mix and match whatever he had listed to create a hand-picked set of their own. Since the collection I have was previously owned by a single individual and there's no logical grouping or consecutive numbering or other 'pre-selected' grouping labels or notations, I can only presume that is exactly the kind of ordering that occurred.

At any rate... this was the opportunity to make notes on anything curious about the slides themselves and the information contained in the catalog's details. There were a few misspellings or even some very minor wording deviations between the titles in the catalog and the labels actually affixed underneath any slides' surrounding glass. This was also the time to make note of any condition or damage issues that would require attention. Luckily, of all 124 slides that were created around the turn of the 19th century; they have remained in a remarkable state. Knowing they have been owned/handled/moved by at least three different owners over all that time makes it all the more remarkable. I'd hesitate to say there were three of us - IF - you include the antique dealer I purchased them from as 'an owner' for the few weeks time they were in his possession.

Well, now they are accounted for and their conditions are known and noted. Where they fit by content and category into the original catalog's listing are fairly apparent. The overall impression I have is that most every category type it contains has been represented from it's 727 offerings. I can only imagine how they compare to the content of any later catalog(s). I'm not sure if the same would be true, but just by the spacing of the numbers alone there seems to be a possibility it's a fair representation of what it/they might contain. Time will tell if that guess has any merit, IF any other catalogs still exist, to later be found and presented.

The next order of business for me is doing some actual testing on what the process will need to be for acquiring high quality captures with sufficient detail. With the viewable portions of these slides coming close to what a medium format film camera would produce, there is already a built-in challenge in rendering the details in a smaller format camera. I don't own or have easy access to the more sophisticated digital imaging devices that high profile museums or researchers might have, but I do have a respectable 24MP digital camera and several high quality and very sharp lenses to use for making digital captures.

My initial captures were accomplished with a very crude and quickly rigged up Samsung Tab 2 10.1 tablet acting as a light table by running a freebie 'lightbox' app. It was sufficient enough to get even illumination behind a slide to provide a one-color light source, and it was handy. I created a rudimentary 'mask' from a chunk of cardboard with a rectangular cutout to slip a slide into. That allowed me to block out any light-spill beyond the slide's edges. My 16MP NEX-F3 served as a capture device, using a close focusing Konica AR f/1.7 lens that is pin-prick sharp. The disappointment in continuing with a variation of the same setup, is the terrifically annoying Moiré pattern that the tablet produces when used as a backlight.

So... a change is in order on the hardware side for the lighting portion at the very least. Stay tuned.

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