An impossible tale

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Gather ’round children while I tell you an impossible story. Once upon a time there was a big company – a really big company – which made magic film. When you clicked the camera shutter on some magic cameras, a sheet of film popped out the front, and the picture appeared magically in front of you. It was called instant film, even though it took about a minute for the image to appear fully.

You could get both black & white and colour instant film.

The big company made magic film in several different sizes, from the small to the really big.

But the company fell on hard times, and eventually, several years after its founder – the man who invented the magic film – went to heaven, the big company stopped making film and closed its factory doors. While you still see the company name on a variety of products, it’s no longer that company that makes the products.

And all those people who had come to depend on a supply of that magic film to help them in their photographic jobs and make their art, found themselves in a pickle, as soon there was no more magic film anywhere in the world.

What an impossible situation.

A handful of people, who had worked at the big company’s factory in a faraway country, decided they had to do something. They bought the factory and some of the machinery which made the magic film. And because the task ahead of them was impossible, they called themselves The Impossible Project.

Well, lo and behold, they made the impossible possible. They made magic film. It wasn’t quite the same as the original magic film, but the new magic film made many, many people so happy, peace reined everywhere . . . I mean, the Impossible people worked even harder and made other kinds of magic film, making more and more people happy.

Then one day, somebody was looking in an impossible place, and found some of the original magic film. There wasn’t very much of it, and some of it was getting kind of old and might not work as well as when it was new, but the Impossible people thought people should know about it.

First, there is some Type 57 Film. It’s nominally ISO 3000, medium-contrast, in its original sealed cardboard box. The gas-sealed inner packaging contains 20 sheets of black and white film. The oldest of the stock has an expiry date of 2006 (only a little beyond the “best before” date!), and the newest 2008. Prices range from $114 to $171. Per box.

Or there’s a limited batch of 4 x 5 sheet holders, at $57 each.

But the topper on the cake is a limited – very limited – number of packs of Polaroid Type 809 Film. This 8 x 10 film is ISO 80, with 15 sheets per pack, in the original, sealed box. Expiry date is Dec. 2008. Cost? How about $570 per pack? The 9 packs (told you it was limited supply) go on sale Monday (Nov. 15) along with the Type 57 packs.

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