This looks like a roll of film and was found in an old house. It is from around 1908. It seems to be wrapped tightly and almost was mistaken for a spool of thread. A piece of metal foil was loosely wrapped around it.

I didn't want to disturb it without knowing what it was, but it seems like it's probably and undeveloped roll of film.

Is there a chance of being able to develop it? Is there a chance its a roll of negatives that are developed or would they be cut apart and not on a roll?

film roll

film roll

film roll

  • 4
    since the paper with the patent info is in tact i would say it has not been exposed in a camera. In more modern medium format films the paper at the other end of the roll ( used to secure the film after exposure ) would say exposed to let you know you had already shot the roll. what other words are on the paper?
    – Alaska Man
    Jan 12, 2017 at 19:16
  • There weren't any other important words that I saw or remember seeing. So you're thinking that patent info paper is a label that would hold a new roll closed? (sounds like an answer btw)?
    – JPhi1618
    Jan 12, 2017 at 19:22
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    Alaska man is correct; if exposed in a camera, the center adhesive tape says "EXOSED". Best put this roll on display with a camera of the same era. Jan 12, 2017 at 21:19
  • Unless you want to put it on display yourself, there's probably some techology or photography museum that would appreciate getting this as a donation to their collection. Jan 13, 2017 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


Roll film of this size and type is suppled on a spool. The film is wound on a spool and protected from light exposure by an opaque paper over-rap call a backing paper. The roll, film and backing is sealed with an adhesive label. In this case, the adhesive label gives the patent date. This roll is loaded in the camera. Using a winding knob, the roll is advanced frame by frame. This process transfers the film from the supply spool that contains the film, to a second receiving spool. The film is removed from the camera and sealed with an adhesive label. This now rewound film displays the words EXPOSED in several locations. This prevents the accidental re-loading of exposed film. The absence of the word EXPOSED tell the tale, the film has never been loaded into a camera.


Its definitely an unused roll of film. However, if its as old as you think (1908) it may be nitrate-based film stock and has a very unstable composition (will degrade rapidly when exposed to air) and it is highly flammable. Nitrate film stocks were in use until the early 1930s. Eventually cellulose "Safety Film" replaced nitrate film stocks and plastic film stock replaced cellulose film. Nitrate motion picture film stocks were the reason old movie theater projection rooms had fire doors and fire suppression systems.


If you're interested in developing it, I would put it in the hands of professionals. Check out https://www.filmrescue.com/.

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