"With the improvement of engraving and appurtenant mechanisms, playback life has been constantly improved as the coating material was progressed from soft wax, to ethyl cellulose, to cellulose acetate to nitrocellulose." -- Picket & Lemcoe, p.15, "The Acetate Disc: Materials and Degradation Mechanisms" 

Brandon Burke 
Archivist for Recorded Sound Collections 
Hoover Institution Archives 
Stanford University 
Stanford, CA 94305-6010 
vox: 650.724.9711 
fax: 650.725.3445 
email: [log in to unmask] 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Andrew Hamilton" <[log in to unmask]> 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8:59:14 AM 
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Transcription discs and nitrate lacquer 

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 combustibility). 
> DDR 
> 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 nitrate 
>> 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 that 
>> 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 

Serif Sound ♬ CD Premastering 
➣ Dingbat Lacquer Sound Disc 
Andrew Hamilton, clerk 
1 (513) 542-3555