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  NASA photographs: red vs. black numbering

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Author Topic:   NASA photographs: red vs. black numbering
dmash4077
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Posts: 64
From: Prattville Al
Registered: May 2006

posted 01-20-2008 10:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dmash4077   Click Here to Email dmash4077     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What is the significance of the red or black lettering on NASA photos?

spaced out
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From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 01-21-2008 02:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In general, the red numbers were used on color prints and the black numbers on monochrome prints.

The most important thing to check is the watermark on the back of the photo. "A KODAK PAPER" is the one most people are looking for, with other Kodak two or three line watermarks indicating a later printing date.

Russ Still
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Posts: 535
From: Atlanta, GA USA
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-21-2008 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russ Still   Click Here to Email Russ Still     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding the numbers themselves, they are assigned (apparently) using one of a few different cataloging schemes to help identify the year of the photo, and the image itself.

mjanovec
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From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 01-21-2008 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And blue numbers too, especially in the Mercury and early Gemini years.

fredtrav
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From: Birmingham AL USA
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posted 02-05-2011 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing to be aware of on both red and black number photos is that they can easily be copied. A good color copy will have the numbers on them, they key is NASA or Kodak info on back.

idrvball
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From: Burke, VA USA
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 10-17-2011 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for idrvball   Click Here to Email idrvball     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was my understanding that the red numbers and black numbers originated from the Manned Spacecraft Center, and the unnumbered photos originated from Kennedy Space Center. These unnumbered photos also came with the purple NASA press release information on the back.

As mentioned, the big thing is that the photos are printed with the back printing, "A KODAK PAPER" because this paper was only manufactured until the early 1970s, it helps to prove the time period that these photos were actually from.

There would be no way for an Apollo 11 Aldrin visor photo to be actually a vintage photo if it were printed on paper with the back printing "This paper manufactured by Kodak" because that paper wasn't developed until a couple of years after Apollo 11.

So, whether the photo has the red number or not, they are vintage if printed on "A Kodak Paper"

One last thing, this paper is color paper, the vintage black and white photos are usually printed on paper that has no back printing at all.

There are two ways to determine the the vintage of these. The first is looking for the "Meatball" logo, instead of the "NASA worm" logo, and making sure that there is the back is uncoated with resin. You can check this buy putting a pencil mark and the back of the paper.

spaced out
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From: Paris, France
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posted 10-17-2011 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Kodak watermark can be very faint. It is repeated diagonally across the paper.

Beau08
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From: Peoria, AZ United States
Registered: Aug 2011

posted 11-28-2012 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know the back story on the vintage NASA numbered photos? Were they originally for internal use, or public consumption?

There is probably no way to know, but I wonder how many of them were produced?

mmcmurrey
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From: Austin, TX, USA
Registered: Jun 2012

posted 11-29-2012 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mmcmurrey   Click Here to Email mmcmurrey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
In general, the red numbers were used on color prints and the black numbers on monochrome prints.
Have you seen "blue stamped" vintage NASA photos? I have a couple from my father's office (PAO) which was part of the NASA library in the 60's.

spaced out
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Posts: 2771
From: Paris, France
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posted 11-29-2012 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Beau08:
Does anyone know the back-story on the vintage NASA numbered photos?
They were press release photos, that is prints distributed to the press for use in newspaper and magazine articles of for still images in tv reports.

The most important images were doubtless produced in large quantities but many will have ended up in archives or were thrown away. Only those examples that ended up in private collections will tend to resurface today at auction.

mach3valkyrie
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Posts: 457
From: Albany, Oregon USA
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 12-11-2012 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have an Apollo 9 photo of Galveston Bay that has a green ink identification stamp. It's "A" Kodak paper, so it's an original period photo. (It also happens to be crew signed.)

Maybe they're like Lion Bros. patches — only made at the time of the mission (and reprinted later on different paper). Just a thought.

barnstormer
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Posts: 104
From: Niceville FL USA
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 03-28-2015 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for barnstormer   Click Here to Email barnstormer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can someone please explain the various "types" of old space and NASA photos?

What is the difference or significance of the ones with red numbers, black numbers, and text on reverse. Some have mimeograph type, violet-color printing on reverse, and some are blank on reverse, but certainly are original contemporary photos (lithos? and that is another clarification, needed?).

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