Is 99.999% platinum a pure platinum print?

It’s an ethical question really. From one perspective, what one sees when one looks at a such a print is only platinum. Though the palladium acts as a catalyst, it does print out and remain in the image, so there is palladium in the print; however, the palladium didn’t cause the platinum any color shift.

I’m curious how you would view this. Examples from the wine industry are helpful. Legally, the California wine industry will call any wine a specific varietal if it has 75% of that grape in it. The same goes for region as well, therefore, a Sonoma county Pinot Noir can have 25% Petit Sirah from any other county. However, should the vintner mix vintages, a 2006 vintage must have 95% that vintage in it. One last tid bit for the purists, barrels are extremely expensive and are typically rotated into a vintage at most in thirds. Using all brand new barrels would force the vintner to age her or his wine less than three months which really takes away from the “aging” of wine. The sixty gallon barrel retains four gallons from whatever was in it before. So no vintage is ever 100% except when the wine remains in stainless steel.

Practicality trumps idealism and pragmatism governs the law on wine. What are your views on platinum prints?

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2 Responses to Is 99.999% platinum a pure platinum print?

  1. David says:

    I don’t think you can buy platinum of that purity, can you? I would say that if you intentionally introduce ANY amount of say Palladium, then I think you must declare it. I think. :)

  2. dana says:

    When I wrote the blog, I didn’t consider the purity of the Platinum chemical in this case Ammonium Tetrachloroplatinate (III) or (NH4)2[PtCl4]. Having talked with Mike Jacobson at Artcraft Chemicals, his response was that there is no absolute purity with the chemicals we’ll be able to purchase and that their purity is in the parts per million or .00000# decimal place.

    Mr. Jacobson continued including the fact that the chemicals used have many other compounds in it including Ammonium ions, chloride ions and ultimately iron that comes from the light sensitive compound Ammonium Oxalate. In a chemists view, the amount of platinum is considerably less than 100% and by necessity.

    I’m not fond of taking this view, it’s a choice to avoid making a decision of coming up with the definition of an all platinum print. Of course there are other compounds that are needed to make the print including who knows what in the actual paper base. There is going to be an “unintentional” residue in the part per thousand or million or billion of the active ingredient of oxalate down to the clearing agents used.

    David, I think your comment is worthy of continued discussion. If one intentionally adds a compound such as palladium to the mix, should one declare it even if the amount is only 1%, or in the parts per hundred, thousand or million? Ziatype introduces Tungstate, Cesium and/or Perchlorate which probably remains in the mostly palladium print.

    I’m not so comfortable to make a decision yet on this matter, if the compound is imperceptible, should one declare it? I’m not sure that’s such an easy question to answer.

    After I wrote the blog, it occurred to me that even though the seeding of an otherwise all platinum print does not constitute a “significant” amount of palladium that could visually be seen regardless of tonal shift, the fact that the image refuses to completely print out without the palladium may cause a different visual effect of increased contrast and less tonal scale therefore is a difference in overall aethetics.

    Nevertheless, for the current portfolio and Buxton paper, I’ve found the all platinum print to be too cold for my subject and will be using 10% to 33% palladium to add warmth to the print which I believe must be declared as a platinum palladium print for the obvious reason that it causes a tonal shift in the finished product.

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