Since gelatine emulsion first came into use one of the greatest troubles in connection with the manufacture of it has been that of washing. According to the first methods the time taken for this part of the process was, I believe, about twenty-four hours. It was very much reduced and the ease of manufacture greatly facilitated by the methods now most generally used, and which were, I believe, first communicated by Messrs. Wratten and Wainright. I refer to those of precipitating with alcohol and of straining the emulsion, when set, through canvas, so as to divide it very finely. When the latter method is resorted to a comparatively short time is sufficient to wash it. This method, although a great improvement upon the older ones, yet leaves much to be desired, especially for those who are not in the habit of making emulsion regularly, but only an occasional batch. When the weather is at all warm it takes a long time for the emulsion to set, unless ice be used, and when once it is set the washing process is an exceedingly "messy" one unless the water be cooled with ice; and the amount of water taken up during washing is often so great that there is considerable difficulty in getting the emulsion to set on the plates. In fact, even in cold weather, it is not an easy process to conduct in the necessary near approach to total darkness.

Considerable suspicion has of late been thrown upon the thoroughness of the alcohol method, unless the emulsion has, previous to precipitation, been freed of the greater part of the soluble salts by washing; that is to say, it is doubtful whether the whole of the soluble salts can be eliminated by the process, and, therefore, unless in exceptionally hot weather, it would seem best not to trust to it, except as a further security against soluble bromide and nitrate after washing. Besides this, the consumption of alcohol is very large. Almost three times the amount of the emulsion precipitated is required, and this, even when methylated spirit is used, adds considerably to the expense. With a view of doing away with the washing altogether, or, rather, of washing of the silver bromide when not incorporated with the gelatine, several processes have been invented. By these silver bromide is obtained in a very fine state of division, ready to mix with gelatine and water in any proportion.

The best known of them is Captain Abney's very ingenious glycerine method, which seems to have been thoroughly successful in his hands, although it has not been in every one's. The silver bromide obtained by his process is not highly sensitive, and requires boiling with gelatine before it is in a fit state to make a rapid plate.

We have lately had described in these columns a method of obtaining bromide in a highly-sensitive state by means of the use of an acid, whereby, after emulsifying and boiling, the viscosity of the gelatine was destroyed, and the bromide in time deposited itself. During the late hot weather, when washing became almost impossible, I was led to cast about for some method of eliminating the soluble salts less tedious and "sloppy" than that of washing, more certain and less expensive than that of precipitating the whole of gelatine with alcohol, and which would take less time than the method of obtaining the bromide in a pure form.

My first idea was to make up the solutions used in emulsifying in a very concentrated form, and, after emulsifying, boiling, and allowing to cool, to add to the thin emulsion thus obtained gelatine to the amount of twenty grains to the ounce, and to precipitate this with alcohol, the rest of the gelatine required to make up the bulk being afterwards added, and the whole thoroughly incorporated by warming and shaking. I was thus successful in reducing the amount of alcohol required to one-third of what would be necessary if the whole of the emulsion were precipitated; but still I found that, if a reliable emulsion were required, the pellicle as formed had to be washed to free it from the last trace of soluble salts.

It now struck me that it might be possible to precipitate the bromide of silver direct from a very weak solution of gelatine, and obtain it in such a form that it might be filtered, washed, and in every way treated as an ordinary precipitate. I tried the following experiment. I took--

 1. Silver nitrate....................... 200 grains

Water............................... 1½ ounce.

2. Ammonia bromide...................... 120 grains.

Water................................ 1½ ounce.

Gelatine............................. 12 grains. 

I emulsified the two together in the usual way, allowed the whole to cool, and then poured the thin emulsion into about ten ounces of alcohol, stirring the while. As I had anticipated, a flocculent precipitate was formed, which settled to the bottom of the vessel in a few minutes. This was, in fact, sensitive bromide of silver mixed with a very small quantity of gelatine (about five per cent.), and could, I found, be treated in the same manner as a bromide precipitate from an aqueous solution; it might be washed, either by decantation or by filtration, easily dried, and doubtless could, when dry, be kept for an indefinite time, and be at any time used by mixing with gelatine and water in any proportion thought fit.

I found that a less amount of gelatine than four grains to the ounce was sufficient to carry the bromide down, while five grains to the ounce carried it down in something which I considered too near an approach to a plastic mass.

It will be noticed that in the experiments which I have described the emulsion had not been boiled, so that the sensitiveness of the bromide was probably not great. As the experiment was done in daylight it was of no practical use for making emulsion; but I have since made several batches in this manner and have found them most satisfactory.

When sensitiveness is sought by boiling I rind it necessary to add a small quantity of gelatine after boiling and before precipitating, as that which has been kept for some time at a high temperature seems to have lost the viscosity necessary to carry down the silver bromide in such a form that it can he easily separated from the alcohol and water.

The practical manner of making an emulsion by this method may be as follows. Make up the following mixtures:


Silver nitrate...........................................400 grains.

Water..................................................... 3 ounces. 
Ammonia bromide..........................................240 grains. Gelatine..................................................24 grains Water..................................................... 3 ounces. Hydrochloric acid enough to slightly acidify the solution.
III. Gelatine................................................. 20 grains. Water.................................................... ½ ounce. IV.
Hard gelatine (say Nelson's X opaque, or Mr. A. L. Henderson's)................................240 grains. Soft gelatine (Nelson's No.1)........................... 240 grains. Water.....................................................24 ounces.

Nos. II., III., and IV. are allowed to stand until the gelatine is softened. No. I is then warmed in a hock bottle until the gelatine is just melted, when No. II. is poured into it, a little at a time, with vigorous shaking, until the whole is emulsified. It is then transferred to an ordinary jelly can, which is placed in a saucepan half full of water over a ring Bunsen burner in the dark room, and boiled for half an hour. It is then allowed to cool to about 100° Fahr., when No. III. is added. The whole is then allowed to get quite cool, when it is poured, with stirring, into about one pint of methylated spirit. If it be wished the precipitate may now be filtered out and washed at once like an ordinary filtrate, but I prefer to allow it to settle, which it will do in about five minutes. The supernatant fluid is then gently poured off.

This fluid will have the appearance of still containing a considerable amount of the silver bromide; but if it be kept and filtered it will be seen that the quantity is really so small that it may be disregarded. We all know what an alarming quantity of silver seems to be going down the sink when we wash vessels to which a very small quantity of emulsion is adhering. If filtering be resorted to the liquid which comes through will be quite clear. This was somewhat unexpected by me, as, if an emulsion containing the whole of the gelatine be precipitated into alcohol in the usual way, the alcohol becomes milky with a substance which could not, I imagine, be filtered from it.

Two or three ounces of methylated spirit are now added to the vessel containing the silver bromide, and the latter well mixed with it. This makes the precipitate "firmer"--if such an expression be allowable--and this time it will sink to the bottom almost immediately after the stirring has ceased, and the alcohol may be poured off.

I consider that the bromide in this state is practically free from soluble salts, but it may be washed with one or two changes of water if desired.

No. IV. is now gently heated till the gelatine is melted and the precipitate mixed with it. It must be kept warm for some time, and shaken vigorously until all granularity has disappeared, This is, of course, ascertained by placing a drop of the emulsion on a piece of glass, and examining it. If it be wished to keep the bromide of silver for future use it may be placed on a piece of muslin stretched in the drying-box, when it will dry in a very short time; and, although I cannot speak from experience on this point, it will, I have no doubt, keep for an indefinite time so long as light is kept from it.

If it be desired the ammonio-nitrate method may be used instead of the boiling one, although in my hands it does not give such sensitiveness. If it be desired to use this method, solution Nos. I, II., and IV. are made up exactly as for the boiling method, except that No. II. is not acidified. Liquid ammonia is then poured with stirring into the silver solution, until it blackens and again clears. Emulsification is performed exactly as described above, but instead of boiling, the emulsion is kept at a temperature of about 100° Fahr. for half an hour, when it is poured into the alcohol, no addition of gelatine being previously made.

I think I may claim for the method which I have just described that it is less troublesome and more certain than either the ordinary washing method or the usual one of precipitating with alcohol, while it affords an easy method of making sensitive silver bromide in such a form that it can be more easily stored and afterwards manipulated than if it were in the form of pellicle. The whole of the soluble salts are eliminated, and also any gelatine which may have been destroyed in the cooking. The amount of alcohol used is comparatively small; in fact, to prepare silver bromide for a pint of emulsion very little more than a pint of methylated spirit is required. Besides this I do not think that I would be wrong in saying that the chance of green fog is reduced to a minimum.

Let me take this opportunity of thanking Captain Abney for his prompt reply to my question about the connection between the proportion of bromide to gelatine in emulsions, and the density of resulting images.--W. K. Burton, in British Journal of Photography.

Old Wrought Iron Gates, Guildhall.

Old Wrought Iron Gates, Guildhall.