Reference collection to scan and upload somewhere

I am the current keeper of a very, very large collection of reference documents, drawing, photos, files, folders and notebooks of some very important people in the Amunition collecting world that are no longer with us. The collection is made up of Peter Labbet’s, Freddy Mead’s, Tony Edwards and a few items from Ron Bridges. I intend to scan and upload “somewhere” all if not as much as I can now I am sure you can well imagine how much there is, litterely thousands of pages/items. It will take many years to do it all on my own but I am willing to start, I need help with firstly what is the best way to scan it in.

I have been looking at Flatbed scanners and I could do with some advice on which one to buy, I dont have a great deal of free cash but I feel the better the scanner I can get the better and higher quality the documents will be. My 2nd problem is where can I upload it all to so it is free and easily accessable for everyone to share.

After my post regarding backing up files I feel I should invest in more external hardware to store all this when I have scanned it but again there is a cost to this.

My final problem is what to do with all the documents when I have scanned them, I will be keeping everything that is relevent to my collecting but there are a lot of other area’s of no interest to me ie - 20mm + ammunition, rifles & pistols, grenades, and much more so I need to discuss with anyone who is interested in the documents related to those area’ of collecting.

This is going to be a slow process and I will not be giving anything away to anyone for quite a while because I need to sort through it so we know what we have, I will only pass things on as long as it is to be passed on by them at a later date and not to be used for any form of money making this all needs to be passed on for the future.


First- I congratulate you on your desire to preserve and share this important information. Well done!
This is a valuable project. It is feasible. It is affordable. It needs to be done.

Now, let’s look at the hard parts and consider some suggestions on how to turn this massive project into a pretty easy one.

You should not waste the time to scan all this stuff. Your contribution should be organizing and identifying the material, sometimes called “finding aids” which briefly list what is in a group of documents, their apparent or confirmed origins and a few key words that researchers hunting for this material might use. These would be more or less “cover letters” or table of contents, or “previews of coming attractions” and unlike hard copy printed books, you could do a simple paragraph or so to get started, and then revise and expand these later and simply substitute the new improved finding aid or summary for the initial one. You could probably find several IAA members to assist with these. It would be good to try to standardize somewhat on format so that someone using the whole collection could find their way around.

As an example of a professional, highly detailed finding aid, here is one from the U.S. National Archives dealing with the records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance. It has some good examples for general organization, and what would be nice to include in a perfect world. In the world where volunteer ammo collectors live, it would probably be far less detailed, and initially be only a rough outline.

There are commercial outfits which scan documents into .pdf documents for a nominal cost and do the OCR conversion to make them searchable. Several years ago when I had the entire series of IAA Journals scanned the cost was something between 5 and 10 cents a page (10-20 pages for US$1.00) but I suspect that more places are doing it now and prices may have dropped. Let the professionals do this instead of you buying a scanner and wasting years doing it yourself!

I would recommend that IAA consider hosting the completed files on the IAA website “Members’ area.” This is primary reference material along with secondary material from some important people in the field, and well worth preserving and sharing. The cost for hosting material on line is unbelievably cheap. Let’s see if the IAA Webmaster has anything to say about this, or if he thinks the IAA Baord needs to approve something.

Frankly, the IAA financial position is pretty good these days, and in my opinion paying all or part of the cost of digitizing this material would be a worthwhile expenditure. At the prices noted above $1,000 would cover scanning something like 10,000-20,000 pages of material. I bet that individual members would contribute some money for this project, or we could see if the IAA benefit auction proceeds might be dedicated to this project for a year.

Again, this is a valuable project. It is feasible. It is affordable. It needs to be done.

It does not need to be done all at once. You could start with the smallest group of papers and do that with rough finding aid and get it to the webmaster for posting. Meanwhile, you could be having all the other groups of the material scanned and when you get a chance create rough finding aids for those to be added when they are done. You can go back and improve the finding aids as time and volunteer help permits.

Remember, scanned documents can be moved around and placed in different order or folders if you decide later it makes more sense that way than whatever “top of the pile” sequence they are when sent for scanning.

Start by calling some local places that do “document scanning or conversion” or similar terms and get some cost estimates.

I agree fully with JohnS, in that this is an important subject well worth pursuing! There is VERY VALUABLE INFORMATION here in Richards hands, which is well worth the preservation! Not only for us collectors today, but also for collectors and historians down the road.

IMHO, this is the stuff that NEEDS to be preserved as much as possible, as well as accessible to the community. Thus, the “Members Only” section of the IAA website will come in very useful.

There is a HUGE amount of time involved in this project (more hours than dollars I assume).

I can’t add any useful information to this conversation, but only my opinion on the matter, as I believe JohnS covered the majority.


Well gents I am fully committed to doing it, I am happy to do all the scanning I would not let this go to a commercial outfit. I have been entrusted with all this and I will make sure it is saved for future, I have spent the last few hours going through some of it again and yes it is a large task but it is worth it and I believe it’s achievable.

If anyone from the IAA wants to send me a PM I will give them my personal email address to talk about it.

Many thanks for the positives so far, I am really looking forward to the task.


Trying to scan on a flatbed scanner will take forever. Unfortunately if the documents are bound, it is probably the only way to go. I recently had to scan a 260 page book and apart from the time involved, had the drama of every second page being reversed. From the single sheets, I was fortunate to have access to a Kodak i2600 vertical scanner. This scans up to 70 pages a minute so it took only a matter of minutes.

I also agree that they resultant documents should be placed on a website somewhere, and the IAA members area would be ideal. It needs to be somewhere that will be maintained into the future

Good luck with this project, it is very important.

I think you can rest easy about a commercial outfit doing the scanning, even bound volumes. They have the best possible gear to get good images in all possible formats. And with document feed systems they can process many hundreds or even thousands of pages per hour, while a do it yourself project may be something like 50-100 per hour at best. At least price out what it would cost, and then figure out how much time you have to devote to this project and still “have a life” doing normal stuff. Perhaps you may want to do some select extra fragile items yourself, but tackling the entire thing manually may doom it to never being completed.

The professionals are used to dealing with stuff like financial records, legal papers, blueprints, and other things that have tremendous privacy concerns, commercial value and legal or political importance. They do not lose stuff, and are very good about ensuring nothing gets damaged. They are set up to rotate the images and correct the contrast for optimum images. As long as you use a place nearby, nothing can possibly be lost in transit.

With bound material (like old IAA Journals) it was necessary to cut the spines so the pages could be fed as loose sheets. (There was a trifling additional fee for that.) For valuable archival materials, it would be possible to scan those manually and using special scanners to get good images without the “curl” on the bound edge, but the cost would go up. Remember, if an original paper copy of a document is sacrificed so that an exact image can be obtained, preserved, shared and spread widely, that may be a better overall benefit than a single original still bound but accessible to almost no one.

Strictly the call of whoever is going to do the work, but the benefits of having professionals do the time consuming scanning far outweigh the costs, especially if donations can be obtained to cover some or all of the scanning costs.

Your expertise and time would be much better applied (in my opinion) to organization of the material and making cover sheets/finding aids.

Which of the groups of material do you think you will do first?

If you want do do this yourself, you might consider using a digital photo camera with appropriate fixture and lightning
Might be even cheaper than a professional scanner, and quite fast.
Once you set camera and lightning right, all you have is to turn pages and press button. This works especially well with larger-than-standard documents or tightly bound volumes.

To give you an idea how it is done:

I have spent £100’s and £100,s on books so would be happy to get the ball rolling with a donation to get them scanned commercially. Just need to know where to send it…!

Have a look at there you can upload it easy and share.

JohnS you are quite correct I have spent an hour on the telephone to a company that will digitize all these for me and I was very impressed with everything we spoke about, I am taking samples over next Tuesday. I suppose it was a bit naive of me to think I could do all this on my own & this way it will be available a lot quicker

The cost will vary depending on how delicate each piece is and if they can scan them in the machine of hand scan on a flatbed scanner, it varies from £80/$130 - £100/$150 per thousand if through machine and £250/$390 per thousand if they have to be done by hand. I think all the original drawings will need to be done by hand, we can choose the format they recommend .PDF format because the software to read a .PDF is free to everyone but if we want any other format they will do what we like.

They will label everything and put it in folders for me for free if I get everything done by them, I am willing to put some money into the fund for this and I think it will be best to set up a PayPal account or I can set up a separate bank account so that anyone who wants to contribute can transfer money to it, I will keep all receipts and keep a log of the financial side of it. I do not want to make any money from doing this I am just happy to keep some of the original documents and drawings the others can be distributed to collectors when they have been scanned and uploaded.

Please PM me for my personal email address for anything to do with this.

Many thanks for the kind words of encouragement so far.


I will try and upload a few photos from when I unloaded the car at the weekend

and few of the drawing box labels


Okay, I am committing to US$100.00 in to support the project. We can figure out how to make the funds transfer later. Who else wants to commit to a specific amount?

Can we get a commitment from IAA to post the finished product on the IAA website somewhere?

As an IAA member, I would ask that IAA contribute US$1,000.00 to the project. Can we get some IAA Officers to comment on the chances of this happening?

As far as format- .pdf is an excellent choice. Be sure that it includes processing to be “searchable.” That way people can search the entire document text for a word or phrase, and not have to just view the .pdf image as a picture. Obviously, that works with printed pages, but not so much with handwritten notes.

You might point out that this is for non-profit educational use which might allow some bargaining on price, or perhaps some sort of tax exemption.

Nice photo of a small mountains of material you are working with!

Remember, digitized files can be rearranged and renamed at any time, so even if you start off with “Edwards 1, Edwards 2, Edwards 3” they can be combined, or broken down and renamed “Edwards military pistol calibers (with sub folders for 9mm, .380, .450, .455, etc); Edwards Polte drawings”, etc. at your convenience. This is much easier than trying to shuffle all the hard copy stuff prior to scanning.

So, now that you have all this under control, what will you do with the rest of your weekend?

“So, now that you have all this under control, what will you do with the rest of your weekend?” :-)

I still have around 500 rounds in my collection to catalouge yet :-)

There are lots of extra’s we can have done but they all have a cost implication, he actually mentioned having all the documents, books and pamphlets “word searchable” this will be an extra 3pence/5cents per page but I think it is worth it, he will demonstrate all this next week for me.


OH and JohnS that is not all of it, there are a few mor items to pick up

Rich, I also pledge $100 to this project. I agree with John, the IAA members section is the ideal location for this information. Please contact the IAA president and let him know what you would like to do. If I can be of any help, feel free to contact me.

It is important that we preserve this information for future cartridge researchers.



Just sitting down to lunch at work and opened this thread, WOW!!!

What a wealth of information from some of the giants in cartridge/munitions collecting arena and huge undertaking on your part.
I completely agree with the suggestions made by you, JohnS, Lew and others. Presented with such a massive amount of material, using a professional service to do the digitizing is the only way to go with this. I am willing to commit $50 (pays for 1000 searchable pages) to the cause and I think it would work best if we could send the funds via PayPal. Using a PDF format to save the digitized materials sounds like the best way to go.



I for one will lobby the IAA board to spend some money with this very worthwhile project.

edited to add - E-mail sent to the board

I agree Brian I will set up a paypal account specially for this project, I dont want people to feel that by not donating they wont be able to get to use the material it needs to be for all members


Rich…i will put in £65 which is about $100 cost of a good book, and not even a tank of Fuel…! paul.

You can count on me to assist with some funding as well for this project.