In the era before digital, instant cameras, or taking your film to the corner drug store, if you wanted to take photographs for a living, you had to be good with your chemistry too. If you’ve done your own darkroom work, you know we had it good—safe chemicals, premeasured in handy, disposable plastic bottles or foil pouches. But at the turn of the 20th century, you purchased your chemicals in bulk and mixed what you needed for right then—because it didn’t keep. Also, you were dealing with chemicals that, well, let’s say would require you to keep an MSDS today!
To facilitate the mixing of chemistry, Kodak delivered the chemicals in small glass bottles (to ensure you got “fresh” chemistry) and made “studio scales” to facilitate the mixing of the powders. This is an example of one of those scales. Manufactured sometime between 1912 and 1948 by Eastman Kodak—note the “EK” in the center of the scales’ gimble. It measures approx. 9 x 4 inches and has its full, six-piece weight set and two 3-1/2 inch measuring trays. The small chemistry bottle (see detail photo) is traditional “brown glass” of the era and bears the Kodak name and “Tested Chemicals” seal. It’s about 3 inches high.