– By Marie O’Connell (SANTK Preservation Archivist)
The Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero acquired this accession in 2002 and it makes up part of the Bill Beavis Collection.
What is unique about this is that it is made up of two completely different formats of analogue media – one being rare Sound Mirror paper tape developed in 1946, and the other being two lacquer discs from 1940. It is possible that Bill Beavis himself engineered this crude but very ‘kiwi’ open reel tape as he was unable to acquire an actual 10.5 inch reel.
Here you can see that a homemade reel has been made from two 12 inch lacquer discs. The centre contains two circular pieces of plywood, to act as a ‘hub’ and four holes have been drilled through the wood and a further three through the discs. They are held together in place with rusty nuts and bolts!
With great care the nuts and bolts are unscrewed to reveal inside a fairly decently wound pack of extremely fragile paper magnetic tape.
We have a spare Technics turntable – which is broken and only good for spare parts, but perfect for this delicate procedure of getting the paper tape off the unique ‘disc’ reel and onto a proper open reel tape flange.
The wooden hubs fell out after the screws were removed and so the inner part of the pack is held in place with archival splicing tape. Luckily we have a special Studer cover that the turntable can sit on to then enable the next stage of getting this paper tape on to a reel.
The tape has many splices in it and as I come across them I have to be very careful not to tear or rip the tape. I have noticed some oxide has come off at these points as the old splice leaves a vaguely gooey mark. I am unable to clean these as the base is fragile paper and so I have been applying another piece of archival tape over the splice to strengthen it and help keep the goo to a minimum.
It is very slow going as I wind off the tape from the turntable to the other hub on the nearby Studer by hand.
Once I manage to get all the paper tape onto this reel then we can set about playing it to hear what has been recorded on this unique ‘disc’ reel.
And we will discover the contents of the discs once they have been cleaned and preserved.
The discs have writing on them which gives us an idea of the contents –
Sidney ? Part 1. 12 Noon 17-4-40. Note – quick start. 2998. Britain Speaks. 3 sides – 12 mins.
J. B. Priestley. Part 2. 9.35am 17-9-40. 2988. London Air Raids.
? 20-9-40. 3045. 12/30pm. Me and Gus. Pigs. Part 2.
The last side is still covered by the tape.
My next blog installment will contain samples of the audio!