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

SDC15826 copy

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”

SDC15825 copy 2

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”

SDC15829 copy 2

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.

SDC15827 copy

SDC15984 copy

For more details, please email 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

Dance of Ghosts and Death – magic lantern slide

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Identifier: 2014091. Dance of Ghosts and Death – magic lantern slide. [SOLD]

 

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Three images painted on glass, mounted in a period wooden lantern slide frame having three apertures. The maker has modified the wooden circles to avoid cropping the painted images. The original title: “DANCE OF GHOSTS AND DEATH” is written in ink on the top edge of the wooden mount. On one side of the frame is written what appears to be 6/- [six shillings] crossed out, and 5/- [five shillings] in pencil. Size: 295 x 99 mm.

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Skeletons and death figures were popular subjects for the phantasmagoria lantern shows of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The tradition goes back even earlier – a drawing of a skeleton removing its own head is a lantern slide design by Chrsitaan Huygens dating from 1659. The slide offered here probably dates from c.1830-1850, and is jovial rather than threatening or doom laden. Despite the title suggesting that Death (the skeleton) is dancing with ghosts, the nightshirted character appears to me to be alive and kicking. Unlike early engravings of the Dance of Death where the mortals are depicted as stiff and unaccommodating, the gentleman in this version readily joins in with the dance.

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This is the only known example of this subject, and the images from this slide were used as an illustration in Mervyn Heard’s book Phantasmagoria: The Secret Life of the Magic Lantern (The Projection Box, 2006).

A unique item.

Condition: good, with minor scratches, some areas of black background paint missing.

Price: [SOLD]      s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Le Petit Inventeur – ‘The history of the future’

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Le Petit Inventeur. New Series nos. 1-25. Editions Albin Michel, Paris. 400 pages, Colour covers, b/w interiors. Hardback, bound in paper-covered boards, with coloured illustration on front. Size: 200 x 282 mm.

I would once have categorised the picture on the cover of this book as ‘Early television’, or ‘Videophone’, but of course it would now be best described as webcam skyping, or whatever the current phrase is for keeping up with family and friends online, both visually and sonically.

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This French magazine started in the early 20s, and this is a re-start from c.1930. Odd little pieces, with many b/w drawings, about all kinds of technological realities and promised future science-fiction gizmos that the boffins were just about to make real. In truth, the covers are the best part – and there are 25 of them, with most reproduced below. Great fun, and useful reference material for anyone writing about ‘the history of the future’. These magazines are not hard to find in their country of origin, but the bound volumes make collecting them much easier, and are rarely found outside of France.

Condition: Interior very good, with usual tanning of the pages. Some foxing to the covers (and minor marks to top margin), and a new webbing repair to the top of the spine. The old pasted-down endpapers are cracking at the spine joint, and there are a couple of small old paper repairs there, but the binding is still holding well so I’ve left those minor faults.

Price: £38.00 plus postage

s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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The Monkey with the Magic Lantern

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Twenty years ago I became aware of the wide range of illustrated versions of the fable generally known as ‘The monkey with the magic lantern’, while designing the page layout for an article about the subject written by French magic lantern collector Jean-Philippe Salier. I had one edition in my own collection. Some years earlier, I was in Paris with doyen collector Bill Barnes, scouring the cabins of the bouquinistes along the banks of the Seine. I spotted a very nice large illustrated version of the subject, sealed in a plastic wrapper. I picked it up and asked the dealer (in one of my few memorised French sentences), “I want to buy this. May I open it?” The response was an unsmiling “Non.” Bill shook his head and tutted. This didn’t happen in the Charing Cross Road. “Is it complete?” A surly, “Bien sûr, il est complet.”

I gave the book to Bill to hold, took out the required wad of francs, handed them to the dealer and said to Bill, as I took back the book and opened the Sellotaped wrapper, “If there are pages missing I’m going to hit him with it.” There weren’t, so I didn’t. The bouquiniste was now smiling, I managed a forced smile and a “Merci”, we shook hands and Bill and I went away with our treasure. It was later displayed in the exhibition Magical Lanterns, at the Museum of the Moving Image in London. It’s the copy now offered here.

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Les Fables de Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian. Illustrees par A. Vimar. Henrie Laurens, Editeur. [n.d., c.1899] Avant-Propos de Andre Theuriet. 137 pages. Many b/w illustrations, and eight in colour, mostly full-page. Size: 225 x 283 mm. SOLD

Nicolas Stanislas-Auguste Vimar (1851-1916) was a French painter, sculptor, designer and illustrator. He exhibited in Paris and at Marseille, notably sculptures of animals, and contributed drawings to a number of journals including Figaro illustré and Le Rire. [adapted from Wikipedia].

English version of the fable:
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Fables_of_Florian_(tr._Phelps)/The_Monkey_with_the_Magic_Lantern

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Advertisement, 1902

Advertisement, 1902

I believe this book of the Fables, with illustrations by Vimar, was published c.1899. An edition was certainly available by 1902, where it appears in a bookseller’s catalogue [Catalogue: Ernest Martin. Lester Smith collection]. There were two versions of this edition; one with b/w illustrations at 6 fr., and one with some illustrations in colour at 9 fr. This is the colour edition. I have seen this book with an identical cover but in green cloth, grey cloth, and in beige. I have not seen another example in red.

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‘In France, Jean-Pierre Clarisse de Florian is presently considered a minor writer and poet from the late 18th-century. Most likely his major contribution to literature is the first translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Not many people remember that Florian also write a series of fables … his most famous fable tells of ‘The monkey displaying the magic lantern’. Imagine how a frustrated monkey takes advantage of the temporary absence of his human mentor, a galantee showman. Here is a unique opportunity for him to proudly present to the other animals the lantern show he has watched so many times. No doubt he is fully knowledgeable about the process, and his sharp views of our world are about to change the life of generations to come. At last, a time for deep, philosophical considerations and valuable scientific comment comes of age. Precious sentences are filling the showroom while a series of views slide superbly [through] the lantern. Alas! What should have been an unforgettable one-monkey show quickly becomes an after-dinner talk of the most boring type … The galantee showmonkey … has forgotten just one thing – lighting up the lantern.’ [The Fabulist Displaying the Magic Lantern. A tribute to Florian 1755-1794. by Jean-Philippe Salier. New Magic Lantern Journal, Vol.7 No.2 September 1994.]

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Pictures of an itinerant showman with a monkey feature in many engravings and books from the 18th century onwards. In the illustrations in this book, the monkey is carrying and using a now very collectable Lapierre lantern, in the style known as ‘Carre’. I bought one in Paris in the ‘80s, from a friendly dealer in the Porte de Vanves market; which is still one of my favourite Parisian haunts.

This book turns up occasionally, but not always in good condition, and sometimes it’s the b/w version.

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Les Fables de Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian. Illustrees par A. Vimar. Henrie Laurens, Editeur. [n.d., c.1899] 137 pages. Many b/w illustrations, and eight in colour, several full-page. Size: 225 x 283 mm.

Condition: generally good. Minor foxing and some brown / finger marks to some pages, and general tanning. Wear to the cloth on the bevelled edges of the boards, and spine. Cover illustration colours, and gilding, excellent.

Price: SOLD.

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Retro Video

identifier: 2014070 TELDEC & TELCAN

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Video discs. an invention of TELDEC TELEFUNKEN-DECCA SCHALLPLATTEN-GESELLSCHAFT M.B.H.
ALLGEMEINE ELEKTRICITATS-GESELLSCHAFT AEG-TELEFUNKEN

The DeccaRecord Company Limited, Decca House, 9 Albert Embankment, London, S.E.1. [Printing number: PL564770]

Folded leaflet, page size: 202 x 254mm. [SOLD]

In 1970 – or was it 1971? I was technician for a conference about Video Discs, held at the National Film Theatre. The possibilities of this new medium, not yet commercially available, were promoted – short extracts from videos of surgical operations, so that surgeons could easily have repeat viewings in their office or at home, and other groundbreaking possibilities. To set the scene, it should be remembered that this was many years before VHS and Betamax, and before the introduction of the Philips VideoCassette. The images were recorded on an 8-inch-diameter (200 mm) flexible foil disc which spun at 1,500 rpm on a cushion of air, and reproduced by means of a pickup with a diamond stylus. Running time: 5 minutes (12-inch disc: 7.5 minutes).

“…the undisputed merits of the disc as a storage medium – encouraged engineers of TELDEC … to resume experiments five years ago. Their labours were not in vain. The Video Disc is now a reality and a commercial proposition; and the world of communication will, as a result, be revolutionised.”

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I think it was intended to have a demo at the talk, but the gear didn’t materialize – though I do remember seeing a sample flexi-disc. Launched a while later as TeD (Television Electronic Disc), there was limited commercial application. The technology moved on. The year that TeD was launched I wrote a science fiction short story, Razzle Dazzle (Science Fiction Monthly, August 1975) alluding to the Philips LaserDisc, then in development. Twenty years later, in the museum building next door to the NFT, I found myself Technical Manager responsible for perhaps the largest (anywhere) installation of Philips LaserDiscs – 72 players that whirred away all day, six or seven days a week.

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I picked up a leaflet at that 1970 conference, thinking “This might be of interest in the future.” Well, the future has come and gone, with the later development of LaserDiscs now a distant memory, and DVD and BluRay fading away as downloads and modern storage methods take over. So here it is, a leaflet from the deep past of visual media. Well, my deep past, anyway.

Condition: very good.

Price: £15.00 plus postage. (Plus: see item below)  s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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BASF NEWS LETTER [No.8?] [SOLD]

For all Recording Tape Users. Published by Badische Anilin-& Soda-Fabrik AG Ludwigshafen am Rhein and distributed by BASF Chemicals Limited, 5a Gillespie Road, London, N.5. 20 pages including cover. Size: 146 x 146mm.

The main interest is a short piece entitled Tape Recording of Vision and Sound, which occupies less than 4 pages. Telcan was the first attempt at marketing a domestic “TV recorder” in the UK. For those of us not backroom boffins in tv studios, the idea of recording moving images onto magnetic tape seemed like some kind of magic. Yet this is what we were promised.

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A friend told me years later that he’d been to a demonstration at a London hotel. The quarter-inch tape was moving at 120 inches per second! The system worked, it was marketed briefly, but soon died.

The young people on the cover are perhaps recording a play – in between cigarette puffs. No doubt they would also drag out the Grundig occasionally to record messages for friends; as explained herein, swapping audio tapes by post was a popular hobby in those days. I was doing it myself a few years later. Social media of the early 1960s.

It’s stained, creased, torn, inked, patched-up and poorly – and hence, free to whoever buys the video disc brochure listed above.  s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

The Kinora: a lost world flickers into life

It wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that films would be seen in cinemas. At first, there weren’t any such places – village halls, theatres, fairgrounds were the venues for ‘living picture’ shows. Short movies were also shown in arcades, first with Edison’s peepshow kinetoscope film machine, and then with the flip-card mutoscope. But it was also a possibility that the big demand would be for motion pictures in the home, and it was a miniature version of the mutoscope that took most of this early market, which flourished in France and Britain, especially, before the First World War. The Kinora featured of the technical designs of the American inventor Herman Casler, developed into a miniature clockwork machine by the Lumière Brothers in France, in 1896. It was marketed a few years later by Gaumont in France, and then hand-cranked versions appeared in England during the early years of the 20th century. Viewers could be purchased, and Kinora reels of professional productions – printed from 35mm film – rented. There were even studios that specialized in taking one’s Kinora portrait – for a price more than twice that of many workers’ weekly take-home pay. Around 1908 in England a home camera was added to the system, but seems to have been technically unreliable and was very expensive. I’ve always been fascinated by the Kinora, I think mainly because of the extremely efficient use of the viewing machine’s minimal technology to produce a very effective moving picture. A scene or face from a lost time is seen though the lens, the crank is turned, and the frozen past gradually flickers into life again, in a way that somehow seems different from just watching an old movie on a screen. Over the years I’ve given talks about the system to the Royal Photographic Society, at the National Portrait Gallery (London), and to the Magic Lantern Society. In the 1990s my partnership The Projection Box published Barry Anthony’s booklet, Kinora: Motion Pictures for the Home 1896-1914, and later a facsimile of the original Kinora Reels catalogue, taken from the only known original. A new edition, combining both booklets, is available from Blurb. http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/2573925-the-kinora-motion-pictures-for-the-home

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I’ve owned this Kinora viewer by Kinora Ltd, London for thirty years, and it’s now time to find it a new home. This example, from c.1906-1908, is in mahogany.  Condition is very good, with just a small piece of wood missing (as per photo), at the bottom of the hood.

With the viewer is the Kinora reel No.117: Portrait, woman eating apple. (Title in ink on the box: LADY WITH APPLE). The reel is in good condition, and works well. Evidently a studio set-up. It was necessary to give the sitter something to do. Gentlemen usually smoked, ladies removed their hats or blew kisses. This lady (probably an actress) consumes the fruit most enthusiastically.

Kinora viewer and this reel: [SOLD].

References: Barry Anthony, ‘Shadows of Early Films’, Sight & Sound Summer 1990

Richard Brown and Barry Anthony, A Victorian Film Enterprise: A History of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (Flicks Books, 1996)

Stephen Herbert, ‘Animated Portraits’ History of Photography Vol.13 No.1 1989

________‘Kinora Living Pictures’ Amateur Cinematography Papers No.6, 1984

________‘Kinora Living Pictures’, Photo Historian No.95, Winter 1991

Henry V. Hopwood, Living Pictures Their History, Photo-Production and Practical Working (Optician and Photographic Trades Review, 1899)

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