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TOP To Offer Ctein's Last Dye Transfer Prints Tweet This   Forward This

16 April 2013

The Online Photographer has announced the sale of master dye-transfer printer Ctein's last 160 prints. The sale will begin on April 17 at noon, Central Daylight Time, and last five days or until all the prints are sold, whichever comes first.

The four 16x20 prints are being offered for $575 each, "one third of the artist's usual price for a dye transfer of that size," according to TOP. They will consume the stock of dye transfer materials Ctein acquired when Kodak discontinued them in 1993. And shortly after the sale, Ctein will close his wet darkroom.

The images will be unveiled at TOP April 17 at noon, Central.

Update: According to Johnston, "We sold out in five hours and six minutes."

The Last Dye Transfer Sale Starts April 17th

WAUKESHA, Wisc. -- The Online Photographer is having a five-day-only sale of beautiful, large prints made with the rare, old and difficult dye transfer process.

Starting at 12 noon, Central Daylight Time, on Wednesday, April 17, the photo enthusiast Web site The Online Photographer (a.k.a. TOP) will begin a sale of four full-sized (roughly 16x20 inches) prints by Ctein from his portfolio. The cost is only $575 per print, one third of the artist's usual price for a dye transfer of that size. This leaves a comfortable margin for gallery markup or future appreciation in value.

Ctein (it's his only name and it's pronounced "kuh-TINE") has been a photographer and custom printmaker for 45 years. As one of the world's few master dye transfer printers, he has been making dye transfers continuously for nearly four decades. The late Frank McLaughlin, Kodak's own dye transfer expert, said of Ctein, "I've never seen better dye transfer prints than his." Chances are you have seen his work. He has been the dye transfer printer for many famous photographers, including rock 'n' roll photographer Jim Marshall.

That era is coming to an end.

This spring, Ctein is finally closing down his wet darkroom for good, TOP editor and publisher Mike Johnston said. Ninety-nine percent of his custom printing business is now inkjet. When Kodak discontinued making dye transfer materials in 1993, Ctein mortgaged his house and filled his basement with supplies. Those supplies have been dwindling steadily. He's now down to his last sheets of full-sized dye transfer paper.

There are only 160 full-sized dye transfer prints to sell. The sale will last for five days or whenever the prints run out, whichever comes first.

After completing the orders from this sale, Ctein will be closing down his darkroom for good and making no more dye transfer prints, ever, Johnston said. He is not the absolute last dye transfer printer on Earth, but their ranks -- never large --have been shrinking steadily; there may be as few as a dozen dye transfer printers left. New ones will not be forthcoming because the materials are no longer made (and the process is so difficult to learn). The only dyes Ctein will have to sell in the future are already-made prints from stock, for considerably higher prices.

Because TOP sales tend to sell rapidly, Johnston said, there is a good chance this sale will not continue for the entire five days. The picture choices will be posted at 12:00 noon, Central Daylight Time, on Wednesday, April 17. (The pictures cannot be viewed and the prints cannot be purchased until then.) All sales are first-come, first-served.

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