Indiana Jones - 'Real World' Props

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LTsmash1200

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
From what I understand, the amount of lume on something like a compass is pretty small and it's sealed under glass so it's probably not too big a deal as long as it's just sitting on a shelf. If you don't take it apart or shake it up too vigorously so you loosen up any lume on it, it's not going to produce much dust, and they're probably not sealed airtight so the radon gas is getting out and dispersing to the point that it's not that dangerous (as long as it's not in a sealed case like that Smithsonian article talks about).

Also, lume that old probably isn't going to glow anymore. I have a 1960 Omega Constellation with radium that doesn't have the faintest hint of glow anymore.
 
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VonMagnum

Sr Member
I'm thinking of getting a clear acrylic air-tight box to store the compass in (I definitely see "orange" paint on the two arrows and a bit on the inside of the lid that may or may not be, but that's the most exposed if it is. The rest is under the compass glass (the two arrows, one of which is flaking apart). If it's the right size, I can stand it on its end so you can actually see the face on the bookshelf. As it is, you can only see the side anyway without picking it up. That would keep any radon formed or anything else sealed and it's still easy to open to actually use it, etc.

I also ordered a geiger counter that will tell me for certain. I always wanted one anyway to test the nearby environment out for any possible mineral deposits, etc. and this will tell me if any future antiques are hot or not as well.
 

LTsmash1200

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
From that Smithsonian article it seems it would be worse to keep it in a sealed box because then when you do open it you'll get a concentrated puff of radon instead of it just dispersing into the air. That is, unless you never intend to open the box again.
 

VonMagnum

Sr Member
From that Smithsonian article it seems it would be worse to keep it in a sealed box because then when you do open it you'll get a concentrated puff of radon instead of it just dispersing into the air. That is, unless you never intend to open the box again.

Maybe, but you could always open it outside on the porch or something to disperse it outdoors and avoid letting any out inside the house at all. I find very little advice out there in general, really, which seems odd given how common these are in the form of antique watches, clocks, compasses and other navigation instruments from around 1910/12 to at least the mid 1960s.

There's some sources of asbestos at work. I don't need to add any more sources of lung contamination (although it sounds like this stuff seeks bones). Frankly, given how little I paid for it (like $67), I'm thinking of just offloading it. It wasn't in the actual movie anyway. The geiger counter costs more, but it's kind of cool to have regardless.

I found some 2.9" x 2.9" x 1" clear acrylic containers (12 for $10.99) on Amazon. The compass is 2.75" x 2.25" x 0.75" so it would be an almost perfect fit. Those might come in handy for storing other small things organized. Hmm, actually they have quite a range of sizes in that line.
 
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Pascal Kurosawa

Active Member
Hi, I have some knowledge about radiation. So I want also comment this question:

Radioactivity rises the chances to get ill on cancer. There is no "starting level" for it. But the chance rises with the level of radiation. You have radiation from several sources around you all the time. You can not avoid all of them. The efective radiation from this compass decrease exponential with the distance to the object.

So I think if you put the object on a shelf the effective radiation will be not significant higher then the baseline of the other radiation. I would handle it this way. But please don´t blame it on me if your dices fall realy realy bad and you get ill from cancer sometime in the future.
 
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Remote People

Sr Member
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Hi, I have some knowledge about radiation. So I want also comment this question:

Radioactivity rises the chances to get ill on cancer. There is no "starting level" for it. But the chance rises with the level of radiation. You have radiation from several sources around you all the time. You can not avoid all of them. The efective radiation from this compass decrease exponential with the distance to the object.

So I think if you put the object on a shelf the effective radiation will be not significant higher then the baseline of the other radiation. I would handle it this way. But please don´t blame it on me if your dices fall realy realy bad and you get ill from cancer sometimes in the future.
This is the sensible approach that I take as well. If aircraft instruments are fine to be on display at the Smithsonian (and therefore consistently near museum staff) then so long as I don't sleep or spend a lot of time within 2 to 3 meters of a radium 226 dial card then I am fine as well. Glass and acrylic in the box I keep it in block alpha rays.That said I do open the airtight box outdoors when taking it out. Best advice is to perform your own research (if you are concerned) and make a judgement call.
 

VonMagnum

Sr Member
I got my geiger counter in today, but there's a firmware issue (display doesn't show up on the LCD panel. I've got to download a firmware update so I can see specific numbers). But the "clicks" worked (and alarm it seems) along with a little green LED that blinks with the clicks and turns RED when it's in a hot zone. Putting it right over the compass set the thing into a tizzy. Clicking like crazy RED and then alarms started going off (beeping) and didn't go away until I turned it off/on again (seeing as the controls don't work with current firmware). So I assume a couple of inches off the surface of the compass it's rather 'high' radiation. Pull back a couple of inches and it's clicking more than usual. About 5 inches away, it doesn't click much more than background (anywhere else in the house).

So thus far I'd conclude, yes, probably all the compasses after 1913 have radioactive paint in them. The radiation a few feet away is probably not much more than background (will see once display is working). From what I read even the nasty alpha radiation from a typical compass won't penetrate skin, but you wouldn't want to inhale any dust, etc.) Whether it's worth even a minimal increased risk in cancer over a long period of time, I can't rightly say as I'm no expert on radioactivity or cancer risks. I do know if I'd realized how much radiation (even so) were in these antique compasses, I probably would have passed on it, given it's only in Young Indiana Jones and unreleased footage from Raiders (no in the movie).

I'd have to say the nature of random radiation is even stranger. I could hold the thing for a minute without a click in some rooms and move slightly and get 3 clicks and then nothing again and then maybe 1 click and then nothing and then 2, etc. I tried waving it over my arms, head, etc. and I wonder if motion plays into it since I'd get a few increased clicks for a moment and then nothing at all for 30 seconds or more (who knows how accurate it is) but I found nothing in the house that was even remotely like that compass at close range.
 

VonMagnum

Sr Member
The Geiger counter is fully working now after a firmware update. I get 17-23 CPM in any given room. I got around 40-51 CPM on the bookshelf itself and a bit over 500 CPM setting it right on top of the compass (alarms go off etc). That's about 1/5 what the guy got on YouTube for a 1950s compass with the entire card face painted. Here it's only the arrows and two spots at N & S as far as I can tell. I forgot to measure the leather carrying case for any residual radiation. I'll check it tonight. It shouldn't have any, really.

Too high? Not unless you keep it in bed with you, but I don't know how much radon it generates. I haven't found a case I like the appearance of to use with it.
 
Wow - I knew this hobby was dangerous for our wallets, but I never really thought it could be dangerous to our health. I knew about the radium paint on the compasses, but always figured that since it made it through customs & the postal system (I bought mine on the Bay from the UK - I think from you Remote Peoples!) that it couldn’t be that bad. Mine is also in a glass cabinet that I’m not ever very close to, but I’m also curious about the radon issue.

What is everyone else thinking? Keep or sell?
 

el toro

Sr Member
Radium decays into radioactive radon gas. However, the compass is sealed. Vintage Panerai watches from the early 20th century also used radium to illuminate the watch arms. I’ve heard of concerns from those collectors, so it might be best to join a few of their forums and see whether this is a legitimate concern or not. I’m guessing panerai collectors already did a lot of the legwork to determine whether a real health hazard exists.
One point to note is that panerai watches could be used for deep sea dives, and thus were hermetically sealed. Were the compasses also hermetically sealed? I’m guessing that they were as they were military items which probably needed to survive being submerged in water.
 

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LTsmash1200

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
From what I’ve read about vintage watches was that if it’s a diver it might have radon buildup inside so you would want to use caution if you open it because you’ll get a puff of radon. If it’s not a fiver though, it won’t be sealed like that so the gas just disperses and it’s probably not that big a deal.

If it’s sitting on a shelf in a decently ventilated area you are probably fine.
 

Liberance

Active Member
Not sure if this counts as gear rather than prop, but since it's a real world object, here we go just in case:

IMG_4384.jpg


Indy's backpack from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A brand-new, non-vintage, MFH military German backpack that mimics the original design seen in the movie, including the leather straps as opposed to the more modern, fabric ones. Found in Germany. In the film it looks more brown than olive, however all the military German backpacks I've seen look greenish. Pictured here next to an original Mk VII satchel for scale reference (which, incidentally, also happens to be a real world object I guess... although a well-documented one by now).

It's missing the 'H.J.' initials patch on the top flap, naturally. However it's worth noting that the inside of the side pockets is leather lined, so a chunk of that could be repurposed for it.
 

Pascal Kurosawa

Active Member
In the film it looks more brown than olive, however all the military German backpacks I've seen look greenish.

That is true. In my time in the german army we had only the olive-green backpacks. So my guess is a strange color filter in the film or something like this.
 
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Soloruben

New Member
Hi everybody,
I have searched the web for more information. I have just received a compass that I bought some time ago. It is in good condition and the glass is not broken... But I share this concern about radiation as some of you do. I have a colleague who is a physicist and has a Geiger counter. I will talk to him this next week and I'll decide what to do.
By the moment I share some interesting links on this issue that I found and might be interesting:

About compasses types:

About terminology:

About compasses and radioactivity in a forum:

About luminous paint:

In the "Health Physics Society" :

I'll share what my colleague tells me.

By the way, Liberance, I loved your backpack. If you shared where you bought it that would be fantastic. I would like to find something like that. It's very nice and very useful too ;) .
 

Soloruben

New Member
Hi,
My colleague used today his Geiger device on the compass (an original MK VIII)... And the radiation was active and high... He told me that if I kept the device in a box (a good one), the radiation wouldn't be a problem, specially if it was in a ventilated place and it was not close to me. But I wanted it to be exposed on my desk... So this complicates things. I will ask to a watch maker if they can remove the paint. But this might be very expensive or just impossible... Another option is to sell it to a more serious collector. This would be a pity because the compass is beautiful...
 

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Jamesfett

Sr Member
Man this sucks!!!!!!!!!!!! I just got an awesome one right before the first post about this.

I would want to warn anyone if I sold it. Who would want to buy a radioactive Compass.

Maybe best to toss it.
 

VonMagnum

Sr Member
They're ALL radioactive from back then and yet people collect them. Some pay a lot for them (I see many selling for $200+). They were radioactive in 1918 and they're still radioactive and will be for thousands of years. I never heard of someone specifically getting cancer from their compass and they used these for years in the war. The radioactivity won't penetrate skin from what I read and kept in the carrying case, it probably wouldn't even make it to your skin in any amount. The biggest danger would be if the paint somehow crumbled into dust and was inhaled, but from what I've read that's unlikely. It peels and it's usually on the inside of the glass.

Sitting on a desk? Maybe that's not the best place for it, but I got no significant readings on my geiger counter once I was 6 inches away (well into background levels). I doubt the radiation would be much danger if it wasn't sitting right under your head. On the other hand, I've never gotten any definitive answer on how much radon it would produce, whether it would even make it out of the compass (being sealed under glass and all) and whether it could be enough to be an issue for increased risk of cancer.

Still, I know how the mind works (who needs to worry/stress and just the idea of cancer sucks and worrying itself can increase the risks of that and everything else since it affects your immune system). I keep thinking I should put it in a box in the garage unless I was going to show it to someone since it wasn't in the movies anyway and I probably wouldn't have purchased it just for peace of mind for that reason, but then I think I'm being ridiculous given the readings drop to normal outside the shelf itself (even sitting on the shelf edge 2-3 inches away, it was still borderline background (45-52 CPM). I only got a 500 cpm reading when I put the counter right on top of the glass over the painted arrow).

I don't know about tossing it. That stuff shouldn't end up breaking into bits in the back of a garbage truck where bits could be released. It should probably be disposed of properly at some kind of radioactive waste disposal place (no idea what that might be offhand, but I know I read something when I was looking into it where they mentioned where you could take it).
 

Remote People

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Couple points to remember:
1) Devices with far more radium that compasses are on display at the Smithsonian where people (the public but especially docents, museum administrators, security guards and cleaners) come into daily contact with them (albeit from a few feet away).
2) Compasses and much larger WWII avionics are routinely sent and received in and out of the US daily. Packages are routinely tested for even trace amounts of radioactive material by border and customs personnel and the USPS.
3) This is because the risk of cancer has been deemed low again (see the recent Smithsonian research above) UNLESS of course you decide to inhale the radium particles over long period of time.
Hope this helps, but at any rate please do not dispose of your compass. They are extraordinarily pieces of engineering and manufacture that will never be repeated. Most experienced compass collectors (including this remarkable young lady) are quite comfortable with these points, hence the demand and prices paid for such marvellous objects. There are many more wristwatch collectors who have worn their enclosed radium faced timepiece regularly for decades without reporting any side effects. Also consider the watch repair technicians who see no issue with working on them.
Personally I am quite cautious and keep my collection in an airtight box, but there are many long term collectors who think that is even being ridiculous. Better too safe than sorry. That said, piece of mind is important and I until I understood the background and the points above after lots of research I finally felt better. Hope you get a chance to do some more research. Ultimately the decision is up to you ;)
 

Remote People

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Like others here, the screen used Johnnie Walker Black bottle has been a mystery.

Had some time and thought it would be neat to have a screen accurate version to go with my Blade Runner 2049.

So did some research.

Here goes:

The screen used lower label is pre-1936. In the first quarter of that year most royal warrant holders changed to “by appointment to the late King George V” following his death in January 1936. Updated royal warrant-labelled bottles could not have made it from Scotland to Nepal until the very end of 1936, if not 1937. So the prop team chose precisely the correct labels.

The screen used upper label was relatively unchanged from WWI to the 1940s.

The screen used bottle is pre-1936 or a non-US rest of world bottle. Embossed US Federal bottles were mandated from 1936-1964.

There does not appear to be any gold foil or lead seal on the neck.

Conclusion: turns out the screen used bottle and labels are historically accurate.

Next step: Mocked up some labels below and will post again once test printed on gold paper and applied the the bottle.

1.png


JWalker.jpeg


2.png




3.png
 
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