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:

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:




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

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


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?




[click to enlarge]

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.





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.

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.

Le Petit Inventeur 2

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


Le Petit Inventeur3

Le Petit Inventeur4



















Chums – and rhinos

identifier: 2014049 CHUMS 1235

CHUMS No. 1,235 Vol.XXIV May 13, 1916. 14-page story paper (pages 615-628). Size: 230 x 300mm. The cover features the story REPAID IN FULL, A Stirring Yarn of Picture-Hunting in the Wilds, By REGINALD C. FRY, which is continued inside. Cover drawing signed Edwd. Martlew.

I had a letter this week from an elderly friend, telling me about his visit as a young boy – almost 90 years ago – to see With Cherry Kearton in the Jungle (1926) at Clifftonville, Margate, with Kearton presenting on the stage. Being shot by a film crew’s camera wasn’t the greatest danger for African wild animals at that time, including the suspicious rhino that appears in Kearton’s film.

Which brings us to Chums…..


“…never fear, we’ll bag the finest wild animal pictures the British public has ever seen!”

And in Chapter 3 – The Greatest Film Ever! – they do … a charging rhinoceros that gets shot and killed in the process. The writer explains that the local men who carry out the white man’s bidding are known as “boys”, which then appears in parenthesis throughout. The ‘n-word’ is also used but the writer doesn’t need to explain to young white English boys what that term means. I’m tempted to write something like “thoroughly non-PC in every way”, but that obvious phrase doesn’t cover it, and in any case the way that the terms PC and non-PC have been used has changed over the years, and in themselves now have no clear meaning. What should we do with this old material? I say keep it visible, so that the present generation can begin to understand how the mess that the world is in today was in part created. And maybe this example could help to highlight the continuing plight of rhinos being killed for their horns. Please feel free to use this cover scan for educational blogs (but: I don’t know the copyright status of this image, which probably cannot be formally cleared).

I think they’ve left the shooting a bit late, given the inevitable inertia of a black rhino weight of 3000 lbs or more (twice that for a white rhino).


Chums was published from 1892 (Cassell) and then Amalgamated (from 1927) until 1941 – monthly from 1932, annually from 1934.

Condition: pages are tanned and fragile, especially at the edges, with nicks and small tears. Centre folds are coming apart (see pictures), where this issue has been removed from a bound volume. Now in an acid-free paper sleeve.

Price: £8.00 plus postage




The Barnsley Disaster

identifier: 2014005 BARNSLEY DISASTER  SOLD

The Children’s Disaster at Barnsley. (George Cresswell).

In the Public Hall, at Barnsley.
The children went to view
The animated pictures,
As children love to do.



[Poems, including The Barnsley Disaster] pamphlet.

Series No.15. Ombler & Sons, Printers, 26 & 27 Mason Street, Hull.
LEAD THE WAY by Bingley Wilson. The Barnsley Disaster by Bingley Wilson. Tom Jinkin’s Dream of Balaam’s Ass. The West Hull Bye-Election. The Barnsley Disaster by George Cresswell (The Engine-driver Poet), 3 Dorset Street, Hessle Road, Hull.

8 internal pages, plus folded pink paper cover. Size: 128 x 193mm.

The physical dangers of attending a filmshow in the early days of cinema were largely because of the highly flammable nature of early nitrocellulose film, not helped by open-flame illuminants, sometimes including volatile ether as a fuel. The latter caused the infamous Charity Bazaar fire in Paris in 1897, which claimed over 100 lives. But fire wasn’t the only danger.

The Barnsley Public Hall disaster occurred during a penny performance for children in Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire, on 11 January 1908. Children from across Barnsley had come to watch a film, walking to the public hall through falling snow. According to news reports at the time, a large number showed up, and the hall quickly became overcrowded. With the ground floor seats full, children packed into the gallery to such an extent that the aisles of the gallery were filled and children were pressed against the lower gallery railing. In order to relieve some of the crowding, and concerned about the press of bodies against the gallery railing, an attendant in the hall called for some of the children to descend the stairs to the main floor. This precipitated a mass rush for the stairs as children pushed to gain access to the ground level. As the crowd surged down the narrow staircase, a number of children fell and were trampled or were crushed. Others, under pressure from the crowd behind them, had to climb or walk over the fallen to escape danger. Even children who had not originally joined the stampede became panicked because of the screams of those on the stairs. Theatre attendants and police who were quickly called managed to keep the children on the main floor safe and evacuate them. They then worked to extricate those who had been injured. According to a wire news report at the time, “When the reserve police arrived they found the narrow stairway practically blocked with bodies.”

16 died and more than 40 were injured. Wire services carried news of the disaster far and wide, and newspapers as far away as New York City covered the story, sometimes in a sensational manner and with graphic detail about the injuries of the victims. [adapted from Wikipedia]

The disaster was commemorated on its 100th anniversary, 11 January 2008, with a civic ceremony. A plaque was unveiled inside the building, now called the Civic, which listed the names of the sixteen victims of the tragedy, all of whom were under the age of 10 at the time of their deaths. Among the attenders was a younger sister of two of the victims.

Barnsley0003[click to read]

There are two poems about the accident in this pamphlet: The Barnsley Disaster by Bingley Wilson, and The Children’s Disaster at Barnsley by George Gresswell. The poems here are perhaps typical of the period. To us, they might seem irredeemably trite – predictable rhyming doggerel, unsuited for such a tragedy. But no doubt they came from the heart. Wilson contributed to A Book of Poems for the Blue Cross Fund (to help horses in war time) 1917.

George Gresswell

George Gresswell

Some quick research on George ‘The Engine-Driver Poet’ Gresswell reveals that he was no stranger to the fragility of young lives. In 1892 the York Herald reported on ‘…the body of a child which was picked up the day previously in the Barmston Drain at Hull, enveloped in some old clothing. George Gresswell, an engine driver, deposed to finding the bundle, which on examination was found to contain the body of a male infant…’ (York Herald, 26 May 1892). Gresswell would also have been familiar with survivors’ trauma – he was driving the Hornsea Express when it ran down a pedestrian in 1903. (‘Killed by Hornsea Express’, Hull Daily Mail, 14 October 1903). His other verses of mourning included one about the Loss of the Golden Sunrise – a steam trawler sunk in a fishing accident, with one crewman drowned – in 1908. I’ve found a reference to an anthology of his rhymes, published in 2006, but this has proved elusive.

Barnsley0005[click to read]

A contributor to the local paper wrote in 1912, ‘I always read with interest the verses of George Gresswell, the engine-driver poet. Mr Gresswell does not profess to be a grammarian, but he certainly can claim to be a mouthpiece of what people are thinking.’ (Humber-Side Echoes, Hull Daily Mail, 23 July 1912.) Other numbers in this series of leaflets are listed on the back cover. I’d like to find a copy of No.4, which includes the poem A Railway Message from Mars.

Condition: Generally good. Staining from rusty staples (they have now been removed) caused deterioration of the paper in the central gutter area, and those areas have been repaired with acid-free Japanese tissue. Now in acid-free paper wallet.

Price: SOLD



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.


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)


Edison’s Kinetoscope

item identifier: 2014055 KINETO

Edison’s Kinetoscope and Its Films: A History to 1896, by Ray Phillips

Hardback with illustrated dust jacket, Flicks Books 1997. Size: 162mm x 240mm. [i-vii] + 210 pages, illustrated.

Ray Phillips is known for two areas of interest in the field of visual communications. Experimenting with the daguerreotype process since 1936, he had his dag portrait taken in 1941 by the master practitioner Charles Tremear, and was soon making his own daguerreotype images. Later, he became intensely interested in a device representing the first ‘galloping tintypes’ – Edison’s kinetoscope peepshow film viewer. This led to him making replicas for museums and collectors, and eventually to writing this book.

I met Ray in the early 90s, when he came to the Museum of the Moving Image in London. (That’s me with Mr. Phillips, on page 102.) As technical manager I’d inherited two of his replica kinetoscopes, and was responsible for keeping them working on a daily basis. Although very accurate copies, the drive system wasn’t beefy enough for heavy use and we had replaced it with a less authentic but more robust design. Ray was interested in this adaptation, and photographed our more powerful motor and direct drive arrangement.

Ray came to London for an auction and I asked him, “Will you be bidding on the kinetoscope?” It was a very early example – perhaps the first used in England. He replied that he probably would, as he’d wanted an original for decades, but had found it difficult to make the decision. “I’m 73 now – how much fun can I get out of a kinetoscope; will I get my money’s worth?” I was at the auction, as I had an institutional interest in the result. Ray bid and won. His wife wiped away a tear (of joy, I’m sure, rather than “Well there goes our next holiday…”). The first thing Ray did was to come over to me. I congratulated him, and he replied, “Any time you want the machine for an exhibition, just let me know.” I never did, but I was involved with the same kinetoscope a decade later when Ray decided to sell it.

Ray Phillips was elderly and frail when I last contacted him a few years ago. I remember him – it’s difficult to avoid the cliché – as a gentle man, and a gentleman.

You can read more about his work with kinetoscope in the Los Angeles Times:

For his daguerreotype involvement, see:

Publisher’s blurb: Motion pictures were first seen in 1894, when Thomas Edison introduced the Kinetoscope, a device for individually looking at film through a viewer. Over the next three years, Edison manufactured almost 1,000 Kinetoscopes and produced some 250 films to show in them. A million people worldwide first saw motion pictures through these devices. This book describes in detail how Kinetoscopes worked and how they were sold, and describes the parlors to which the public flocked, fascinated by the novelty of moving images. It examines how the machines were copied by others and later eclipsed by the advent of projection. It also indicates where surviving machines can be found in the United States and Europe. The book concludes with an index to Edison’s films between 1892 and 1896, and presents titles, filming dates, subject descriptions, and information on the location of surviving copies. Copiously illustrated, the book is a vital research tool for all students of motion picture history.

To quote Classic Images: “This is not strictly an academic text. It is somewhat more entertaining in that the author will, from time to time, offer a personal aside. Recommended.’

I think Ray was pleased with the book, but not too happy with the experience of working with a publisher. His papers relating to the kinetoscope are now in the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Used copies online range from $117.50 (£69.40) up (to $777.94). This example is in very good condition – minor wear to dust jacket.
Price: £48 plus postage. Contact: