I think acetate was used "in parallel" mainly as an office dictation
format, I've seen "Memovox" discs, Edison Voicewriter and Gray Audograph
discs in our collections.  All are very thin, the Memovox discs tend to
be warped and brittle.  Based on the "sample" I have access to, lacquer
discs took over in the mid 1930's, replacing solid metal discs of
aluminum or zinc, or solid shellac discs.  Shellac continued to be used
for commercial pressings and some transcription discs through the
1950's, where it was replaced by vinyl.  
I too am under the impression that the lacquer used on laminated discs
was cellulose nitrate.

Steve Greene
Office of Presidential Libraries
National Archives and Records Administration
(301) 837-1772
>>> Andrew Hamilton <[log in to unmask]> 2/29/2012 11:59 AM >>>
I thought it was the other way around.   Acetate was replaced by  
nitrocellulose lacquer, but the name, acetate, lives on...

From Wackypedia:

"Despite their name, most acetate discs do not contain any acetate.  
Instead, most are an aluminum disc with a coating of nitrocellulose  

Lacquer masters and dubs remain highly flammable - especially after  
near-vaporization by a heated stylus.   The swarf must be removed  
carefully from the chip jar (which also has some water in its  
bottom).    Then you take a huge clump outdoors and ignite it - using 

a 10 foot match.    Weeeeeeeee!


(P.S., I visited the DDR in 1983.   Beautiful to see no  
advertisements or other vestige of decadent capitalism.   Sigh.)

On Feb 29, 2012, at 9:53 AM, Dennis Rooney wrote:

> Although the first instantaneous blanks were cellulose nitrate, the 

> formula
> was later changed to cellulose acetate, hence the use of "acetate"  
> as a
> cognomen for discs which are properly called "lacquer(s)". The  
> change was
> prompted by some unfortunate accidents involving mastering  
> engineers who
> smoked while cutting lacquers. The vast majority of surviving  
> lacquer discs
> are cellulose acetate. No worries (at least not about
> On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 9:20 AM, Steve Greene  
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> First time poster here.  How big a concern is the storage of  
>> transcription
>> recordings, a majority of which are made of coated cellulose
>> lacquer? Coming from a moving image background, the "n" word  
>> (NITRATE) is
>> scary, though presumably the volume of nitrate in even a large  
>> collection
>> of coated discs is tiny compared to even a small collection of  
>> nitrate
>> film.  Were there components in the "recipe" for nitrate lacquer
>> tended to make them less combustible?
>> Thanks in advance for your advice, perspectives.
>> Steve Greene
>> Archivist
>> Office of Presidential Libraries
>> National Archives and Records Administration
>> (301) 837-1772
> -- 
> Dennis D. Rooney
> 303 W. 66th Street, 9HE
> New York, NY 10023
> 212.874.9626

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