Self-cut foil

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Self-cut film (other terms: recording disk , listening film or listening wax ) is an umbrella term for various historical sound carriers that have in common that they are record-like media, the carrier layer of which is thin and very vulnerable.


Self-cut foils were produced between the end of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th century and were used for the direct recording of acoustic events (political speeches, ethnographic sound documents from research trips, concert recordings - also for radio stations, private sound recordings, etc.). Before the invention of magnetic sound recording on tape, they were the only way to record sound besides direct drum recording, but were also used until after the Second World War (lack of tape recorders). Self-cut foils are therefore unique. That is why they are particularly valuable from an archival point of view - at the same time very problematic, as the recording layer had to be significantly softer than a mass-produced shellac . As a result, however, the finished film is also very sensitive and every time it is played, the quality is significantly reduced.

Material composition

The material compositions are different; one distinguishes between:

  • Panels with aluminum support, coated with a wafer-thin layer of wax
  • Plates with aluminum or cardboard support, covered with gelatin (e.g. Pliaphon clay plate)
  • Plates with aluminum support, covered with rayon (e.g. metallophone plate)
  • Decelith plates: three-layer plates from Deutsche Celluloidwerke Eilenburg with a hardened, elastic carrier, coated on both sides with a soft, dark recording layer (used by the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG) for broadcasting purposes. RRG plates were inside start plates.)


  • Bernhard Walter Panek: Conservation of acoustic information , Facultas University Press, Vienna, 2005.