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Thread: Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    I've always been in favor of marking my 8"x10" negatives with at least enough information to reunite these with their sleeves (containing full notes) should they become separated. Having recently started to drum scan my LF work, I now find my previous pen of choice -a Staedtler Mars Pro 0.18, by the way- producing writing unable to withstand the effect(s) of the scanning oil and/or the removal of this somewhat scary substance.

    (If someone had asked me 10 years ago to please stick my negs in a bucket of oil, I think I would've declined...)

    Do any of you wonderful, knowledgeable people on this forum have any suggestions as to what kind of pen would be both archivally safe as well as being permanent enough to be able to deal with this brave, new hybrid world we live in?

    If I'm being silly here regarding the archival issue since the negs are getting The Oil Treatment,

    please tell me I'm being too concerned for my own good.

    Thanks for your time, guys!


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    The "Live Free or Die" state

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    I find the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens work well. They use Indian ink. They show up well on contact prints, and withstand Kami fluid. You can get it off with PEC12 if you scrub. I don't know how archival it is, but I haven't had a problem in the several years I have been using it (I know it's not a good proof).

    I have never tested this in other drum mounting oils, only Kami, which isn't really an oil at all.

  3. #3
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    i wouldn't worry too much about how archival it is, assuming you're writing on the base side of the neg. i don't think ink is going to hurt polyester over time. and most ink will last longer than we'll ever need it to when it's stored in a dark place.

  4. #4

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?


    I have been scribing information on the edge of negatives on the emulsion side with a compass point for many years. You never have to worry about it coming off. It takes a very light touch on most films.

  5. #5

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    Rich, you beat me to it. I do it with a little scribe I made for the purpose. I can write the information very small, smaller than most pens or markers can go. Also, it cannot be washed off accidentally (or on purpose for that matter.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2001

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    John Sexton recommended the Staedtler Pigment Liner pens, 01 tip. they have a very fine point, dry quickly, and will not wash off when you rewash the negative. I have used them for about 6 years without a problem. They are available in most art supply stores.


  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Hope, ME

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    I use Micron Pigma pens, made by Sakura Color Products. You can buy them at most art stores.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    I've tried both the Micron Pigma and the Staedtler Pigment Liner pens mentioned and found the Pigment Liner to write more smoothly and dry faster on both negative and sleeves. The Micron does say "archival" on it, whatever that might mean. Take some cast-off negatives and sleeves into a good art supply store and try out all the options and see what you like best.

  9. #9

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    I've been marking my negatives for the past twenty years on the emulsion side and on the edge with the code notches with a Schwan Stabilo pencil #8008 and available at many art supply stores. The pencil mark is easily erased if you goof but is easily preserved by cutting a narrow piece of scotch tape. Cover the pencil marking and fold an equal amount of tape to the opposite side of the negative. Herb

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Asheville, NC

    Marking negatives; what kind of pen?

    What, no one else uses an embossing stamp?

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