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

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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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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Television: “…and it worrrks!”

identifier: 2014063 TELEVISION 1928 [SOLD]

One of the perks of being Head of Technical Services at the Museum of the Moving Image in London was that I got to talk with many interesting members of the public. One day, in the mid 1990s, I met a lady and her teenage son. She greeted me in a broad Scottish accent, introducing me proudly to the youth: “This is James. He’s made a Baird 30-line television, and it worrrks!” James (real name forgotten) was 18 or 19. I congratulated him, but was slightly sceptical, as I knew what was involved in such a project. “Where did you find all the information?” I asked. “Encyclopaedia Britannica,” he replied. My scepticism deepened. “You made a 30-line television receiver from information you’d read in the Encyclopaedia…” The lady broke in. “Well he can’t read, so I read it to him.” Evidently reacting to my bewildered expression, she explained, “He’s dyslexic.” I nodded, and started firing questions at James. “What did you do for a neon lamp?” “Dismantled two electric mains-tester screwdrivers, used the lamps together…..” Sounded plausible. And the big question, “Where was the 30-line signal coming from?” “The local electronics club got some members to build a line-dropper / frame frequency converter for me, so that I could use 625-line signals.” All the right answers. So it was true. He told me what happened if you slowed down the ‘scanning’ disc by pressing on the edge – the image doubled – and of the problems he’d had and how he’d overcome them. I was almost speechless. I lent them my copy of The Television Book (1936) and wished them luck in their future endeavours. “You must be the world’s foremost technical expert on 30-line television construction,” I suggested to James. “Yes,” his mother replied, “and I’m the second.” They returned the book some months later, with a note that James was expecting to start college soon. I bet that kept his mother busy for a few years. Their fellow countryman John Logie Baird would have been so proud of them both.

Which brings us to:

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Television. A Monthly Magazine. Vol. 1, No.1, 1928. The World’s First Television Journal. The Official Organ of the Television Society.

Editor: A. Dinsdale. (London, The Television Press), 1928. 8vo. Original illustrated coloured paper cover depicting a distinguished couple watching the opera being received on their television set, with the actual opera shown in the background. Profusely illustrated throughout. 52 pages + one loose leaf: “Supplement to Television, No. 1 – March, 1928” (comprising the article “Seeing Across the Atlantic!”).

“Of all scientific subjects, perhaps the one which is creating the most interest in the public mind at the present time is television. It is, however a subject upon which almost no literature or authentic information has been available, either to the interested amateur or to the scientist.

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It is the object of this, the first journal of its kind in the world, to fill this want, and to supply an organ the sole object of which will be to keep interested members of the public supplied with up-to-date and authentic information upon this new branch of science, which bids fair in time to rival wireless broadcasting in importance and popularity.” (from the Editorial by Dinsdale).

This magazine existed in both the UK and USA, in two slightly different versions. This is the first issue – worldwide – and was published in the UK in March 1928. The American version was issued in November 1928. The covers of both versions are illustrated here:

http://www.tvhistory.tv/1928-TELEVISION-USA-UK.jpg

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Television, Vol. 1, No.1, March, 1928, London, 1928. The first issue of the world’s first television journal, the official organ of the Television Society. 52 pages; illustrated throughout (including a full page by W. Heath Robinson); original pictorial wrappers. Includes the rare single-sheet supplement with the article “Seeing Across the Atlantic!” Articles include ‘Noctovision: Seeing in Total Darkness by Television,’ by Roland F. Tiltman; ‘Light-Sensitive Cells,’ by K. M. Dowberg; ‘Television on the Continent,’ by M. Dumont; ‘How to Make a Simple Televisor,’ by the technical staff; ‘Commercial Television: When May We Expect it?’ by the editor, Dinsdale; and, ‘Glimpses into the Future: Television in Warfare,’ by R. Heath Bradley, and others.

Perhaps no other published item in the history of television more successfully evokes the very beginnings of the medium’s introduction to the public.

Condition: Very good. Some lower corners have a crease in the margin, and dusty in that area. Pages are slightly tanned, but firm and supple. Staples just starting to show rust. Now in an acid-free paper wallet inside cloth-covered boards, ready for your bookshelf.

Scarce, and almost impossible to find in this condition. There’s a copy on ABE as I write, at £1,000 plus, and another at just £360. The example here is in better condition than the last mentioned.

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

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Back of Supplement sheet

Back of Supplement sheet

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Le Petit Inventeur – ‘The history of the future’

Le Petit Inventeur

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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Communication – Fifty years on

identifier: 2014043 COMMUNICATION CHERRY

I have a real problem when two conversations are going on at once (due to tinnitus). After a short while, I see the lips of the person I’m trying to listen to moving, but the meaning isn’t being absorbed. The study of the extraordinary capacity of (undamaged) humans to filter the relevant audio, known as the ‘Cocktail party problem’ (or in my case, the ‘Noisy pub problem’) – a task that machines find much more difficult – was a specialism of Professor [Edward] Colin Cherry (1914-1979). During the Second World War, Cherry worked on radar research, and in 1952 took sabbatical leave from Imperial College spending six months in the United States at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he worked with Jerry Weisner and Norbert Weiner and others interested in communication.

Cherry’s most influential books include On Human Communication (1957) and World Communication: Threat or Promise (1971). In 1978 he was awarded the Marconi International Fellowship. He decided to use this to write a book, provisionally entitled A Second Industrial Revolution? He completed only three chapters and the Preface before his death. One of his former students, William E. Edmondson, collected his material and completed it, publishing it as The Age of Access: Information Technology and Social Revolution. [adapted from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Colin_Cherry]

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Communication. An introduction to Information Technology by Professor Colin Cherry. British Broadcasting Corporation, 1964. 24 pages plus paper cover. Size: 210 x 134mm.

“Unlike machine learning, deep learning is mostly unsupervised. It involves, for example, creating large-scale neural nets that allow the computer to learn and “think” by itself without the need for direct human intervention.” Luke Dormehl, 2014.

“…information handling machines are being evolved along principles closely simulating certain actions of the nervous system, of such complexity and novelty of behaviour that the term ‘machine’ seems scarcely suitable. There seems no conceivable limit to their possible development.” Colin Cherry, 1964

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In 1964 Cherry gave a series of lectures about Communication, on BBC Television. This is the accompanying booklet which, appropriately, is carefully designed to communicate clearly the subjects under discussion. The text is prescient one moment, the next – hopelessly outdated by subsequent events. On the inside cover the Professor is seen in London, talking to a conference in Boston via Telstar satellite. Very cutting edge – though the design of the telephone (which seems to belong to an earlier period, but was of course still standard in the ‘60s) rather lets the side down.

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I wonder whether the programmes survive? As Google Brain battles with Microsoft’s Adam, this booklet provides a very useful precis to the thinking of those communicators who were at the front end of communication theory and research in the early 1960s. No copies on Amazon, as I write.

Contents:

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Condition; Good.

Price: £10.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Scroll down for more images, and further items.

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