Cinephon movie camera – from a time when film was film

Cinephon 35mm motion picture camera

It’s been quite a while since the last Neverseen post. Subscribers will have noticed that there have been a lot of “curios” and not too many books on the site this past year. More books soon – but in the meantime, here’s a scarce curio – a 1930s Cinephon 35mm motion picture camera set, made in what was then Czecho-Slovakia. As we progress at speed through the digital revolution, celluloid film is fading away – apart from its use as an archive medium, where it’s still enormously important. It seems to me that there is an increasing sense of affection and respect for the ingenious products of analog technology – from Dansette record players to antique typewriters. Both of those examples can still easily be used, although a 35mm motion picture camera requires more determination to actually operate. But anyone can admire such machines. For those of us who grew up with film, there’s a certain nostalgia. For a new generation too, there is perhaps a sense of loss at what we’ve left behind, and for some a keen interest in these relics of a world they never knew.

Enquiries – further details, price: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Cinephon BH camera, c.1939. Cinephon Co., Prague, Czecho-Slovakia

Manufacturer (Vaclav Ryšán, Prague) delivered 03.04.1941 to UFA Berlin.
[information from V.Vait]

Cinephon PRAH – IX – 187

Inside: “BH 349”

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Three-lens turret. Lenses:

ASTRO-BERLIN No.35432 GAUSS-TACHAAR F:2 75mm

ASTRO-BERLIN No.30335 GAUSS-TACHAAR F:2 32mm

ASTRO-BERLIN No.32493 GAUSS-TACHAAR F:2 50mm

Viewfinder: “7x No. 31917”

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No restoration or cleaning by the present owner. The lens glasses look good. The electrical status is not known, since I am not able to test the motor. Comes with the original canvas magazine bag (not shown here) containing three spare magazines (plus one in the camera), lens hood, tripod, and tripod bag.

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For more details, please email s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

The world of Infrared

infraSCAN007 finalHastings, England – At Rest

For fifty years, Gordon Trewinnard has been taking infrared photographs on 35mm film – both black-and-white and colour – in many different parts of the world.

With infrared photography, the film is sensitive to near-infrared light. Infrared photographs feature very dark skies which result in less infrared light in shadows and dark reflections of those skies from water. Clouds stand out strongly. These wavelengths also penetrate a few millimetres into skin and give a milky look to portraits, although eyes often look black.

Gordon explains: ‘Infrared film reacts differently from other colour emulsions to Cold, Heat, Humidity and Altitude, making it very difficult to get consistent results. For example, you can expose one frame exactly the same as the previous one and get a different result. It’s also necessary to be very accurate with exposures in the snow, desert, and in the tropics – and it’s essential to get the temperature correct during  the development stage.’

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Infrared photography became popular with enthusiasts in the 1930s when suitable film was introduced commercially. Colour film appeared in the 1960s. The false colour and unusual tone effects that can be produced with infra-red film are very distinctive.

Some examples are immediately striking as being different in colour and tone, others are much less obvious in their effects. Some of the more subtle pictures have a real metallic charm about them which is impossible to obtain with regular colour emulsions, thus making all the effort worthwhile.

In 2007 Kodak announced that production of the 35mm version of their colour infrared film (Ektachrome Professional Infrared/EIR) would cease as there was insufficient demand, and with his stocks of film now depleted Gordon has now decided to stop taking infrared photographs. He is now making available a selection of those pictures for sale – some are unique positive transparencies, and others are b/w prints.

imgSCAN014 copyTowers in Las Vegas, USA

Non-exclusive, non-transferable reproduction rights are included with the purchase. Gordon asks that his name is credited when the pictures are used on the web or in print. For further details, please contact s-herbert@easynet.co.uk with an indication of your interest.

Scroll down for more pictures. (The name does not appear on the actual transparencies)

imgSCAN024 copySwiss horse trough

imgSCAN022-copy copyTable mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

imgSCAN023 copySwiss vineyard, Regensberg

imgSCAN021 copyPetersham cemetery, England

imgSCAN012 copyEgypt, Nile Barges

imgSCAN013 copyA field in England, with Horse

New York World’s Fair 1939 – in captivating Kodachrome

New York World’s Fair 1939 – in captivating Kodachrome

These 35mm Kodachrome slides were taken by an unknown skilled amateur, at the New York World’s Fair. They are sharp, in good condition, and mounted in period glass mounts. Each one is unique, Kodachrome not being intended for making duplicates or amateur prints, and so far as we know have never been published.

Kodachrome was a brand name for a colour reversal film introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935. It was one of the first successful colour materials and was used for both cinematography and still photography. Because of the growth and popularity of alternative photographic materials, its complex processing requirements and the widespread transition to digital photography, Kodachrome lost its market share. Its manufacturing was discontinued in 2009 and its processing ended in December 2010.

The 1939–40 New York World’s Fair, which covered the 1,216 acres of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was the second largest American world’s fair of all time.

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This night shot shows the Ford company’s Road of Tomorrow pavilion. The fair was divided into differently themed zones, such as the Transportation Zone, the Communications and Business Systems Zone, the Food Zone, the Government Zone, and so forth.

Virtually every structure erected on the fairgrounds was extraordinary, and many of them were experimental in many ways. Architects were encouraged by their corporate or government sponsors to be creative, energetic and innovative. Novel building designs, materials and furnishings were the norm.

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Outdoor public lighting was at the time of a very limited and pedestrian nature, perhaps consisting of simple incandescent pole lamps in a city and nothing in the country. Electrification was still very new and had not reached everywhere in the US. The fair was the first public demonstration of several lighting technologies that would become common in future decades. These ‘night shot’ slides show the state-of-the art lighting, (with a brilliant blue being one of the Fair’s official colours).

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In the slide of the American Jubilee show the photographer has given a time exposure to ensure that the lights reproduce well.This has the effect of blurring the people walking past – all except one static couple in the distance, captured as they gaze in wonder at the display.

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The Billy Rose Aquacade was a spectacular musical and water extravaganza foreshadowing the form of many popular Hollywood musicals in the ensuing years. The show was presented in a special amphitheater seating 10,000 people and included an orchestra to accompany the spectacular synchronized swimming performance. It featured Johnny Weismuller and Eleanor Holm, two of the most celebrated swimmers of the era, and dazzled fairgoers with its lighting and cascades and curtains of water, pumped in waterfalls at 8000 gallons a minute.
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John Hix’s “Strange as It Seems” appeared as a syndicated cartoon feature in 1928. In its heyday, it was reported that the comic strip was syndicated in over 1,300 newspapers and became a familiar brand to millions around the globe for its comic strips, books, radio shows and film shorts. In 1939, the Hix brothers outmaneuvered Ripley’s ‘Believe it Or Not!) for an exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.

The lower slide shows the “Frozen Alive Girls” frontage, with the block of “ice” in which the girls were to be entombed, naked, being clearly visible as the barker ‘tells the tale’. They’re clearly not too thrilled at the prospect.

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A rare interior colour shot of the British Empire pavilion.

(More slides to be added soon.) Price of slides and further details on application.  s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Santa, Savings, and Fractal geometry

Santa, Savings, and Fractal geometry

Identifier: 2014074 TRUSTEE SAVINGS

The Droste effect — known as mise en abyme in art — is the effect of a picture appearing within itself, in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear.

The effect is named after the image on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands, which displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. This image, introduced in 1904 was maintained for decades with slight variations. The logo of cheese spread brand The Laughing Cow also features the Droste effect. The effect was used by Giotto di Bondone in 1320, in his Stefaneschi Triptych. The polyptych altarpiece portrays in its center panel Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering the triptych itself to St. Peter.

The appearance is recursive: the smaller version contains an even smaller version of the picture, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size. It is a visual example of a strange loop, a self-referential system of instancing which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry. [Adapted from Wikipedia]

Well the artist responsible for this example didn’t try too hard; after a reasonably recongnisable image within the main picture, the next one is basically a blob.

You can’t escape from Santa, even at NeverSeen Books.

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Trustee Savings Bank Christmas Annual 1949. 32 pages including paper cover. Size: 128 x 196 mm.

This little booklet was one of several published in the early post-war years by the Trustee Savings Bank. It’s full of homilies, puzzles, a children’s page, recipes, and other heart-warming stuff typical of the magazines and advertising material of the period.

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It’s Party Time, and Prince Charles beams out of his pram at his mother, who’s not yet Queen. Meanwhile, there’s a typical English Christmas Tea in progress – though the grandmother in her shawl looks American to me – with the gents all wearing ties, of course. A chocolate Yule Log supplements the bulging Christmas cake, and impossibly real candles light the tree.

The Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) was a British financial institution. Trustee savings banks originated to accept savings deposits from those with moderate means. Their shares were not traded on the stock market but, unlike with mutually held building societies, depositors had no voting rights; nor did they have the power to direct the financial and managerial goals of the organisation. Directors were appointed as trustees (hence the name) on a voluntary basis. [Wikipedia] The complex history and merger with Lloyds is here.

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Condition: Good – some creasing, mostly around the spine area.

Price: £6.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

The [sad] Case for Spirit Photography

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Plate from The Case for Spirit Photography

I recently attended a guided tour by exhibition curator Gaia Tedone, of her exhibition Twixt Two Worlds, at the Towner Gallery Eastbourne. The exhibits include a series of ‘spirit photographs’ by 1920s medium William Eglinton.

Introducing the exhibit, Gaia commented that these photographs were printed at a size that would fit into a large pocket, perhaps so that the owner could always have these ‘appearances’ of their dear departed with them, as a source of comfort. I had already come to the same conclusion about my copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s book The Case for Spirit Photography.
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The Case for Spirit Photography. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. London : Hutchinson & Co. First edition. Undated [1922]. Original printed paper covers. pages: x, [11], 12-110, [1 rear advert]; illustrated with photographs.

When I acquired it, the book seemed to have the kind of wear that’s usually found with old motor car manuals. The cover and outer pages were very stained, worn, patched, and heavily dog-eared. Many sections of the text had been underlined in pencil.

Spirit photography started in the 1860s. One of the later practitioners was William Hope (1863–1933). Psychical researcher Harry Price revealed that photographs by Hope, who was a key figure in the ‘’Crewe Circle’ of spiritualists, were fraudulent. Despite this, Hope still retained a noted following including Arthur Conan Doyle, who refused to accept any evidence that Hope was a fraud and went to great lengths to clear his name, including writing the major portion of this book. (Conan Doyle wrote the first 6 Chapters, pages 11- 61. There are 110 pages in all.)
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It has often been asked, how could the person with intelligence sharp enough to have created Sherlock Holmes – and well versed in the mechanics of photography – have believed that the spirit photographs of the era were genuine manifestations of the dead? The answer seems to be that his grief, following the deaths of several members of his family, were such that he needed to have faith in the afterworld, and his faith overcame the evident falsity of these images. Indeed, the even more ridiculous Cottingley Fairies apparently charmed him into acceptance of their veracity. There’s something so very sad about all this.

An owner’s name, Alexander McCorquodale, is on the Contents page: Maybe not the gentleman of that name who was the first husband of ‘novelist’ Barbara Cartland, but apparently the person who had such a desperate attachment to this book.

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The cover has been washed and restored, the pages gently cleaned and tidied, and the broken spine re-glued. There are still some smudges and stains, and evidence of folded page corners. I’ve left the pencil underlinings; perhaps they have some research value.

This first English edition (the first of all editions) sells for around £200 – £650 online. Bearing in mind the condition:

Price: £120.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Louis Wain, genre photographs, but no fairies

identifier 2014096 INFANTS’ MAGAZINE

The Infants’ Magazine Annual for 1904, being a collection of the 12 monthly issues for 1903. Vol. XXXVIII Publisher S.W. Partridge & Co., London. Hardback, colour cover. Size: 177 x 223 mm. 190+ pages, with illustrations on every page, several in colour (black/blue/red).

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Prominent in this annual is the work of Louis Wain, famous cat artist. He contributes the main title page and numerous sketches throughout. More unusually, a photograph of the artist also appears.

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I was also struck by the fact that almost all of the photographs of child studies in this book are credited to Miss K. Grant. It must have been unusual at that time for a woman to have had the facilities, presumably some kind of studio, to produce genre pictures like this. The simple portraits remind me of some of the sentimental child studies by photographer and magic lantern slide publisher Owen Graystone Bird, from the same era.

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The narrative scenes (see below), some with painted backdrops, are reminiscent of the Life Model magic lantern slides popular at that time, though cropped much tighter.

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The subjects of the painted backdrops, representing a poor person’s kitchen, for instance, are different from those in a typical Victorian / Edwardian portrait studio. I wonder whether anyone has researched Miss Grant? Without a complete first name, or location, that would be difficult.

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With the adoption of halftone photographic images in periodicals becoming much more widespread about this time, these photographs are evidently a challenge to the more traditional artworks of the same subjects. This can be clearly seen here with the similarities between Grandma’s Valentine (photo) and the following page Granny’s Recovery (painting); and Spring Flowers (drawing), and the opposite page A Secret (photo).

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Another point of interest is the lack of fairies (gnomes, elves, whatever). With the exception of The Fairies’ Postmen, I can’t find any.

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The book is stuffed with pictures (photos, drawings) and stories of dolls on what seems like every other page, but the fairies that would soon become so ubiquitous in children’s books haven’t yet arrived – here, anyway. Perhaps this was due to the shadow of publisher Samuel William Partridge (1810-1903) – by then retired, and who died the year these magazines were printed – who was a devout evangelical Christian and probably couldn’t be doing with fairies. Maybe it would take the imminent appearance of Tinkerbell to ensure frequent appearances of the fairy folk in periodicals and annuals.

The Infants’ Magazine is not a very scarce title, but finding particular issues – especially in good condition – can be difficult. Apparently people used to give these books to young children to play with. (Note: The BL has it as The Infant’s Magazine.)

Condition: Generally good, as shown. Pages tanned, as expected. The binding is very loose, but still holding everything together.

Price: £32.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Death of Cromwell – hand painted magic lantern slide

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identifier: 2014095 DEATH OF CROMWELL [SOLD]

Death of Cromwell. Magic lantern slide. Hand-painted, anonymous artist. Title hand-written on paper label on bottom edge of binding.

This scene of Oliver Cromwell’s death – from urinary tract problems, apparently – is from an unknown series. Buried in Westminster Abbey, when Royalists returned to power he was dug up, his remains hung in chains, and beheaded. Just to make sure.

Thousands upon thousands of so-called “hand painted” lantern slides are sold on ebay each year. Some are indeed fully hand-painted, and these fall mostly into three categories: 1) early caricatures, stories etc painted on “long slides”. 2) simple cartoonish slides showing a visual joke, often with mechanical movement (e.g. “slipper” slides). 3) very fine hand-painted scenes produced by Carpenter and Westley and a few similar companies. Most of these types are mounted in wood frames.

Other slides described as ”hand-painted” are mostly either cheap chromolithographic slides (i.e. “transfers”), or slides of drawings produced by printed or photographic outlines in black, which are then coloured in by hand.

Here’s an unusual exception: a standard 3.25 x 3.25-inch slide, not framed in wood, that’s fully hand painted. An exquisite little miniature on glass, from c.1890. The paints used would have been a type of coloured varnish. Painting on glass to this standard is a lost art.

Very good condition.

Price: SOLD

Making matches, c.1900

Identifier: 2014093 MATCH MAKING LANTERN SLIDES

As I struck a Swan Vesta match to light a bunch of sparklers for this year’s Guy Fawkes celebrations it occurred to me that we hardly ever use matches these days. Fewer open fires, cheap petrol lighters for lighting cigarettes (and less smoking), no paraffin stoves. Those little wooden splints were once a ubiquitous part of everyday life, and produced in huge numbers – millions per hour from one factory. Famously, the Match Girls’ Strike of 1888, ‘caused by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus, such as phossy jaw…’ [Wikipedia] invigorated the campaign against the use of white phosphorous, which was eventually made illegal. I wonder in what context these slides were most often shown?

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Matchmaking. Fifteen glass 3.25inch x 3.25inch photographic magic lantern slides, showing the industrial process of making matches and matchboxes. Newton & Co, Covent Garden, London. These slides were made c.1912, from photographs taken at that time or a few years earlier.

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I bought these slides around 30 years ago, and I have not seen another example of any of them since. They comprise an extraordinary record of a German match-making factory around 1900, showing the various areas where different parts of the processes were carried out. The printed text commentary states that “Red phosphorous is now greatly used instead of the white kind, and is much freer from dangerous fumes.” The type of phosphorous used by this particular factory is not stated. When we examine these images the dangers of exposed machinery make us wince, but they were of course universal at this time.

 

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This is evidently the same set that was advertised by York & Son, with a reading included in the booklet Glassware [and other titles. n.d.]. A copy of the reading has survived, and is listed on the Lucerna website, which can be accessed by members of the Magic Lantern Society (UK). Non-members can contact database editor Richard Crangle for details of how to obtain the reading.

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This set comprises 15 of the original 19 slides. The fifteen slides present are:

1. Slicing into layers

2. Cutting into splints

3. Cutting up remnants into splints

4. Sorting the splints

5. Piling the splints in uniform heaps

6. Putting the splits into dipping-frames

7. Paraffining and sulphuring

10. Cutting chipwood for match-boxes

11. Making the sides of the boxes without the bottoms

13. Mechanical manufacture of the drawers or insides

14. Mechanical Manufacture of cover or envelope of drawer

15. Sanding the sides of the boxes

16. Laying the coat of antimony on the box and drying it

17. Box-drying apparatus, &c

18. Boxing the matches

Numbers and titles are written in manuscript in white ink on the black paper masks, but are in some cases illegible.

A rare set. I do not know of another. The images above this point have been cropped to show details. Uncropped pictures of each slide are shown below.

Condition: Generally very good. No cracked glasses apart from one small corner crack to one slide, outside of the image area. Browning of image edges in some cases. Some passe-partout edging paper has been replaced, some is missing.

Price: £280 plus postage.      Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Uncropped slide images (in no special order):

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The suffragette and the policemen

Magic lantern slide, Suffragette and policemen, c.1908-1914. English, publisher: Newton & Company, 72 Wigmore Street, London, W. Cinematographer [image taken from 35mm film] not known. Size: 3.25 x 3.25 inches.

When I found this glass slide, the image looked vaguely familiar. Research uncovered what I thought was the same photograph, but it was very slightly different – taken a fraction of a second later. Then it occurred to me that both pictures were printed from a strip of motion picture film. The footage is here (at 1:33).

I’ve not been able to identify the suffragette, but hundreds were arrested in the years immediately before the First World War. The actual slide dates from the period.

Those who lectured on the women’s suffrage movement, in both Britain and the USA, are known to have often used lantern slides – for example:

‘In February 1910 Bertha Mason (prominent activist) gave, as a lecture to the Bath NUWSS society, an account, accompanied by lantern slides, of the forerunners of the contemporary suffrage movement. She also gave this “limelight lecture”, which was described as “Pictures of unique interest to the forerunners of the movement, the advance guard, the parliamentary champions, the present day workers, election incidents”, to members of the Croydon branch of the NUWSS and to the Mansfield Suffrage Society. It was eventually published in book form in 1912…’ [The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928, by Elizabeth Crawford]

The particular address for Newton & Co. appears to have been first used in 1912, so this slide was most likely produced c.1912-14.

Slides of the Suffrage movement are difficult to find today. Very good condition.

Price: £25.00 plus postage s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

ART DECO magic lantern CINEMA SLIDES

A giant (so it seems) grasshopper (cricket?) waits in the grass, a crisp essay in vivid greens.

A society couple stand whispering beneath the trees in the moonlight, while somewhere nearby, perhaps, the band plays on.

A man in a dapper suit sits with his coffee and reflects. A single thin line of smoke curls from his cigarette. Is this Rick, long after the customers have gone home, thinking of Ilsa and the sacrifice he must make tomorrow?

What are the origins of these images? Just another day’s work for some anonymous artist trying to (literally) scrape a living?

ART DECO MAGIC LANTERN CINEMA SLIDES

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Three lantern slides in Art Deco style. Size: approx 3.25 x 4 inches. I have given these the titles:

1. Grasshopper (hand coloured).

2. A couple in the monlight (black-and-white).

3. The man in the window (hand coloured).

These striking images were intended for projecting in British cinemas during the interval, usually while the organist played. (These are 3.25 x 4 inches, a common size used in cinemas.) Lantern slides in cinemas were mostly shown to advertise commercial products or forthcoming films, but these examples seem to be much less common ‘mood’ slides. They were produced by the Morgan’s Projected Publicity method; a semi-opaque ‘paint’ covered the glass, and when dry was scratched through. The precision of the scratched lines suggests the use of a stencil or pantograph. The result was then hand-coloured, when required. Two of these examples include, on an internal label, the patent number 216349, which relates to this technique. A new printout of the patent will be included.

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Very scarce. The chances of finding other examples showing the same images are very slim.

Condition: Very good. The external paper edge binding strips are somewhat ragged, with some pieces missing.

Price: £55.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk